Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is a complex condition that affects both communication and behavior. Symptoms and skills can vary widely. In some cases, ASD is a minor issue, while in other cases it is a disability that requires full-time care in a special facility. Communication is difficult for people with autism. Their understanding of other people’s feelings and thoughts is limited. As a result, they have difficulty expressing themselves through words, gestures, facial expressions, or touch.
Learning might be difficult for people with autism. There may also be an uneven development of their skills. Art, music, math, or memory could be exceptional despite their difficulty communicating. It is possible that they would do particularly well on tests involving analysis or problem-solving as a result of this. Autism is now diagnosed in more children than ever before. Recent changes in how the disorder is diagnosed may have caused the latest numbers to be higher, not because more children have the condition.
Symptoms of Autism
A child with autism usually exhibits symptoms before the age of 3. Signs may appear as early as birth for some people. Autism is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Inability to make eye contact
- Intense interest in a particular topic or narrow range of interests
- Performing the same action over and over, like repeating words or phrases, swaying back and forth, or turning a lever
- The ability to detect sounds, smells, touches, and sights that others find ordinary
- Taking no notice of other people or not listening to them
- Avoiding looking at things when someone points them out
- Cuddling or holding does not appeal to them
- An inability to understand or use speech, gestures, facial expressions, or tones of voice
- Talking in a monotone, robotic, or sing-song manner
- Changes in routine are difficult to adjust to.
Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders
It is possible to spot early signs of this disorder in children before they reach the age of one year old when they are being raised by parents/caregivers or pediatricians. When a child is 2 or 3 years old, symptoms tend to become more consistent. Children with autism sometimes have mild functional impairments that aren’t apparent until they start school, after which their deficits may become more obvious.
Among the symptoms of a social communication deficit are:
- Reduced interest sharing with others
- Lack of understanding of their own and other’s emotions
- An unwillingness to maintain eye contact
- An inability to use non-verbal gestures effectively
- Scripted or stilted speech
- Understanding abstract concepts in a literal sense
- Making and maintaining friends is difficult.
A restricted interest or repetitive behavior may include the following:
- Lack of flexibility in behavior, inability to cope with change
- Having a narrow focus to the exclusion of other subjects
- Assuming others will share your interest in those topics
- Having difficulty adjusting to new routines, experiences, and situations
- The hypersensitivity of the senses
- Movements that are stereotyped
- A very particular way of arranging things.
A developmental pediatrician, pediatric psychologist, child neurologist and/or child & adolescent psychiatrist should be consulted when parents, caregivers, or teachers are concerned about their child’s behavior. As part of this evaluation, the parent/caregiver is interviewed, the child is observed and interacted with in a structured manner, and occasionally additional tests are conducted to rule out other conditions. Occasionally, the diagnosis of autism may be deferred, but generally, an early diagnosis can have a significant impact on a child’s functioning, as it allows the family to access community resources early on.
Treatment of Autism
Treatments are available in a variety of forms. While some treatments involve more than one approach, they can generally be broken down into the following categories.
A behavioral approach focuses on understanding the factors that lead to the behavior and the consequences of the behavior. ASD symptoms are best treated with behavioral approaches. There are hence many schools and clinics that use them, and more and more health care professionals are beginning to accept them as well. People with ASD can benefit from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as a behavioral treatment.
There are various developmental approaches, including those that focus on improving specific skills such as language development or physical development, or broader approaches that improve a wider range of interconnected developmental abilities. It is common to combine developmental approaches with behavioral approaches. Autism spectrum disorder patients are most likely to receive speech and language therapy.
A classroom setting is used for educational treatments. TEACCH is one approach to educating children with autism and related communication disabilities. With TEACCH, visual learning and consistency are key components of learning for people with autism. By adjusting the classroom structure, teachers can hence improve academic performance and other outcomes.
It aims to improve social skills and build emotional bonds through the use of social-relational treatments. Parental involvement or peer mentoring is sometimes incorporated into social-relational approaches.
ASD’s core symptoms cannot be treated with medications. The use of some medications can help people with ASD function better by treating co-occurring symptoms. Additionally, medications can be used to treat co-occurring psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression, as well as medical conditions, such as seizures, sleep disorders, or stomach problems.
Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can be handled by psychological approaches for people with autism spectrum disorders. Psychologists use cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) to learn how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected. As part of CBT, the therapist and individual identify goals and then change how they think about situations in order to change their reactions.
What is AutismCare Nepal Society?
As part of World Autism Awareness Day, the AutismCare Nepal Society was founded on April 2nd, 2008. Founded by parents who care for people with autism, it is the only autism organization in Nepal. In addition to being affiliated with the Social Welfare Council, it is a non-governmental, non-profit making, non-political organization.
Therapies at ACNS
Many different types of therapies are provided at AutismCare Nepal Society. These therapies help the children to grow everyday in an efficient manner.
Occupational therapy and physiotherapy
It is the aim of occupational therapy to promote health and wellbeing through occupation. By doing so, it allows individuals to participate in everyday activities and occupations they wish to and need to do. By facilitating development, OT assists children in achieving maximum functional independence. OT provides creative solutions and alternatives to everyday tasks when skills and strength cannot be developed. The communication skills and social interaction skills of children with autism are often limited, as are their interests, activities, and play skills. An individual’s functional skills can be supported by occupational therapy both at home and at school.
Social, communication, and behavioral challenges result from autism spectrum disorder. Symptoms begin during early childhood and persist throughout life. The development of basic skills in specific areas is delayed in children with autism spectrum disorder. Motor skills are one of the impairments associated with autism spectrum disorders. There has been research showing that motor coordination, postural control, and learning from other people’s movements may be limited for children with autism spectrum disorders, and planning and completing new motor tasks are challenges for them. Developing social skills may be difficult for children with ASD due to early motor delays.
We are naturally capable of appreciating and responding to music as part of our nature. Several instruments are available in the music therapy room so that the child and therapist can easily improvise together, creating music spontaneously. Ultimately, the child realizes their potential for positive communication and interaction as they develop a relationship with music. As well as providing physical and interactive skills to the child, music therapy promotes self-esteem and motivation by creating a positive experience.
A key component of art therapy is the use of visual art making and the creative process to support client change. Clients who struggle with words or are inept at using words are typically referred to this service. Most people describe art therapy as a highly educational, enjoyable, and unique experience. People with ASD are believed to benefit from art making due to their high sensory needs and dis-regulation, often nonverbal nature, and the need for visual, concrete, hands-on therapies.