Autism is a defect of brain development that impairs social skills.
The reason that parents are so fearful of autism is that they are unsure of what causes it and what their future holds for there family and their child. With EARLY INTERVENTION your child can be helped and able to live a more successful life.
Children with P.D.D. or Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified (P.D.D. - NOS) do not fit into the catagory of Autism. They may have some of the criteria , but not all. This is usually the beginning of the diagnosis for Autism. This may be seen in the early stages around 18 months - one year old and continue until certain milestones are not hit. This could be around 4 years old. Then Autism would be confirmed.
SYMPTOMS: For all
Children with Autism or PDD vary widely in abilities, intelligence, and behaviors. Some children do not speak; others have language that often includes repeated phrases or conversations.Children with more advanced language skills tend to use a small range of topics and have difficulty with abstract concepts. Repetitive play skills, a limited range of interests, and impaired social skills are generally common. Unusual responses to sensory infomation - for example , loud noises, lights, certain textures of food or fabrics - are also common.
Asperger Syndrome also affects the use of language, behavior, communication and social interactions. Asperger Syndrome is characterized under autism spectrum disorders which also include Rett disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Aspergers is considered to be a milder, high functioning, range of the spectrum. People with Aspergers have a normal to above average intelligence but typically have difficulties with social interactions and often pervasive, absorbing interests in specific topics.
Asperger syndrome was named for Dr. Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician, who first described the condition in 1944.
Aspergers children can have a lack of empathy, lacking social skills, one-sided conversations, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements.
Around 1 - 1 1/2 years of age you may notice unusual behavior rocking, head banging, spinning, toe walking, fixated on an object, unusual attachments to objects, over sensitive to certain sounds or textures.
Abnormalities in movement:
Rolling over, sitting up, crawling or walking. We noticed the lack of crawling and not wanting to touch he floor. Then while trying to walk - we had toe walking. Which is a version of tip toe.
Your child may be indifferent to other people and seem very awkward when making attempts to socialize. They may even avoid any attempts to socialize. Refusal of eye contract, facial expressions, body postures,gestures, and not wanting to be touched are are difficult fo our kids. Obsessive behaviors, tantrums and self abuse are also seen. the emotional and back and fort relationship of friendship is difficult. Our child would hide under the play equipment at the playground instead of playing with other children and when brought out to play he would begin to stim using his hands and fingers.
Delay or lack of development of the spoken language, difficulty starting or maintaining a conversation, lacking variety and spontaneity in make-believe play or social imitative play are are seen. You could also witness Immediate or delayed echolalia. When a child uses echolaia language they process a chunk of information rather then individual words. This could be a good sign! It is often an indicator of future language development even if only surface level. Watch for pronouns that are left out of the sentence. With speech and language therapy your child can build and use their language skills They may also repeat what you say as a way to lower anxiety and/or buy themselves more time to process information before responding.
Tips for Working with Children with Echolalia
The best story that I can tell you is that my son would listen to commercials. One day I asked him where he wanted to eat and he said "Subway, eat fresh). I can only tell you every one in the car loved it! He is now 6 years old and knows every commercial for Target, K-mart, Wal-Mart, Subway, Burger King, McDonalds and many more!
Picture cards with the name of the object can be used to teach a child what you expect from him/her or what an object is. Such as placing a visual cue on his dresser of what is inside the drawer will show the child that socks, shirts or pants are inside the drawer. You can do this for food (What do you want to eat?) , stop signs (do not go out the door), activities ( what would you like to do?) and many more uses. To make them last place them inside baseball card covers. They are hard plastic and you can even punch a hole in them to place them on a ring. Take them where ever you go. Get creative!
Word Cards/ Flash Cards:
Use word cards to work with vocabulary. Use them a couple times a day, everyday. This helped my son keep his language and gain in vocabulary skills.
If your child is non-verbal this is the best way to ease into language and avoid temper meltdowns. When a child can not communicate then it is frustrating to everyone involved. Allowing them to sign will give them a sense of control.
Our children play different. They are preoccupied with an interest usually very intensely focused. Thy can be inflexible and stick to specific routines or rituals. You will see repetitive motor movement such as hand or finger flapping or twisting or whole body movements. Their play generally lacks imagination. Inappropriate use of toys may be seen. The child may focus on an object or a part of an object to block out the environment. Ritualistic behavior can be repetitive. Your child may demand that something be done in a very defined order or you may have to do it again. The slightest change in activities, environment or schedule can trigger violent outbursts. Injury can occur from head banging,excessive rocking, biting, continuous scratching or rubbing. Your child may even show little or no fear of real danger. They may not be able to react to pain appropriately because of a reduced sense of touch.
This condition may be from mild to severe. While the experts do not know what the cause is there are still speculations. One is that the genes play a part. Genetics is part of the cause. In a new study in Pediatrics of babies who had an older sibling with autism found that nearly 19% of them were diagnosed with the disorder by the age 3. This link is 3 times stronger for boys. It showed that 26% male infants developed autism and only 9% were female.
The next suspect could be a child's exposure to certain industrial chemicals while in utero which causes the risk of brain disorders including autism. The last possible cause is the parents age. A study in Autism Research in 2010 found that mothers have a stronger risk of having a child with autism as they get older. The age of the fathers only seems to contribute to that risk when the mother is younger than thirty.
The (AAP) recommended that every child 18-24 months should be screened specifically for autism. Not all states have mandated this, but Massachusetts and New Jersey have. Only 48% of pediatricians surveyed from a recent Pediatric study use formal screening tools to identify developmental delays, including autism! If you are concerned request to have this done - do not wait!
(M-CHAT) Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers - used starting at 18 months, consists of 24 yes/no questions. Download the test at www.brookespublishing.com Checklist.pdf * Remember a positive test result does not mean that your child has autism - It means get further testing and early intervention!
ADOS - was developed by Catherine Lord, Director of the new Institute for Brain Development at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and Weil Cornell Medical College. In severe cases you know within 5 minutes.
ABA - Applied Behavioral Analysis
For a severe case of autism 20-25 hours a week is standard recommendation, but if the child is mild then a regular situation, occupational therapy and attempt to socialize is the best route.
Just remember - Autism is not the end of the world. It is a new beginning into a new world and a way to interact with your child. Try to see the world as the do! Trust me!