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29th Aug

2013

Autism & Asperger Syndrome Symptoms

Autism:  Core symptoms are;

1.Poor social skills

2.Impaired communication skill

3. Repetitive,obsessive stereotype behavior.It is a disorder which presents in spectrum,may be mild,moderate or severe.

Asperger syndrome:  It is also called high functioning Autism because people affected with disorder are highly intelligent.They may be very talented and ingenious in some interest or hobbies of their life.They may not have communication difficulty but their biggest deficiency is lack of interactive social skill,forming and developing relation with people. Some famous names are Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein,Van Gogh.

What is Autism? Known and expressed by specialists as Autistic Spectrum Disorder because in individusl cases it may show on mild to severe spectrum.

My most important and vital advice to parents and professionals is that if you suspect that your child may have Autism then seek advise early.Because it is proven that early diagnosis and interventional therapeutic measures brings much more beneficial outcome than late diagnosis and intervention.

Autism is a triad of features which are poor social skills, communication skills  and repetitive, obsessive stereotype behaviour.

Children with autism would not know how to socialise with other children of their age.  They usually do not recognise a best friend in school. If they do make friends, they would usually fall out as their social skills and manner to interact and reciprocate communication is impaired.

They may have difficulties  with their expressive language, so they may not be able to clearly express what they are thinking or what their wishes are.  On the other hand, when they are spoken to, they may not be able to grasp what is being told, unless it is very simple or  routine.  In some cases, even simple routines are not understood so is response.The children on Autistic spectrum usually do not respond appropriately to their age. They do not behave as normal children of same age.Autistic children can not express themselves clearly which in turn leads to their frustration, behaviour problems such as temper tantrums,throwing them selves on floor,head banging,hitting,kicking,biting,pushing. They usually do not recognize danger.

Autistic children usually live in their own world; day dreaming,talking to themselves,singing or staring out of the window.Obsession with some kind of object or a toy  is a common feature such as  wheels,door handles,knobs,electric switches, sockets and plugs . Thomas the tank Engine and train, Postman Pat, dinosaurs, cars, Star wars,other action figures are favorite of most of children with Autism.Autistic children play repeatedly and sometime obsessed with the same toy or watch the same dvd/video several times in a day. Sometime a piece of blanket or cloth is a constant use soother or comforting object which they like to carry everywhere in bed nursery school or parties.

They may be obsessed and fascinated with one video/DVD or cartoon, which they would like to watch same programme, repeatedly several times a day, so much so that they may have  memorized the whole cartoon and  many sentences and dialogues.

 Autism is being more and more recognised and diagnosed in the last 10-15 years.  No cause has been so far identified, but there is a strong predisposition in the family members.  Usually it is noticed by the parents when the child does not communicate, or socialise as expected appropriate to his /her age.His/her interaction with other children or even family members or siblings is limited ,poor and may be odd.Children live in their own world playing with their favorite toy or object for hours.

Autism can be a very disabling condition for the children.It is usually manifest  on an autistic spectrum.  The milder the spectrum, the more difficult it is to recognise even by specialists.  On the severe side of the spectrum, it is usually obvious and the child has profound social and communicative difficulties and may have severe to profound learning difficulties.

The problem of poor social and communication skills of the child is usually noted by parents  around the age of 18 months  to 24 months when the child should begin verbal communication. But in some cases it may not be noticed  till child is three or more. The children with autism are delayed with expressive as well as receptive language skill. The child may have difficulty being toilet trained and keeping personal hygiene . May have difficulties settling into nursery or school. In nursery or school they remain on their own,play along or onside, do not usually join the group play,mix and interact with other children.

One of the commonest feature of Autism is that usually children with Autism do not give good eye contact , avoid direct gaze.

Once autism is suspected, the children should be assessed as soon as possible by a specialist pediatrician or a child psychiatrist , a clinical psychologist and preferably by a specialst speech therapist to establish a diagnosis.  Once the diagnosis is confirmed, intervention  should be initiated ASAP..

 Please note that early diagnosis and early intervention is of great value and benefit to the child and the  family. Outcome of early diagnosis and early intervention is proven more effective than  those cases where children are diagnosed late and proper interventional therapy is started late..

Asperger’s Syndrome is a type of high functioning autism, where children are usually not delayed with their speech and language. On the other hand, they are bright intellegent and have good communication skills. Usually with their communication they are articulate and eloquent

However, they have poor social skills so despite their talent of being highly intelligent  and articulate ,they do not succeed in their social life and friendship. Usually they may have an interest, hobby and ingenious knowledge about some thing such as  science , technology, space or history of dinosaurs. May have expert knowledge of route maps,underground,train and train stations. Majority of children with Asperger’ Syndrome are highly intelligent and genius top of the group in subjects of their interest but failure or poor performance in other.

Children with Asperger Syndrome are diagnosed around 7-8 years of age, when they start  having problems with interactive social skills or odd behaviour in school ,with friends or family members.

Important message to parents teachers and professionals  is that when there is a doubt about Autistic Spectrum Disorder an assessment should be carried out by a specialist and if diagnosed the earliest possible intervention should be aimed.There are several different method of therapeutic approach, commonest are  TEACCH method practiced in most British schools,then ABA( applied behaviour analysis) method and PEC (Picture exchange communication system).

Finally we do not know the exact cause of Autism but it is definitely not caused by MMR vaccine.

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