What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that usually first appears during the first three years of life. It is a disorder in which the person does not respond normally to stimulation, acting upon internal demands in its place. Such a person is often seen to be living in a world of their own and uninterested in the things that are happening around them.
A person with autism is likely to exhibit one or more of the following traits:
“Common Indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorder”
- Speech and Language
- Absence or delay in speech and language
- Repeats words or phrases instead of normal responsive language
- Has difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of spoken words
- Social Interaction
- Absence of eye contact, likes to be alone; not interested in what peers are doing
- Inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals; often has difficulty dealing with changes in routine
- Lack of imaginative play, does not imitate others’ actions
- Sensitivity and Focus
- Over or under sensitivity of the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste), e.g. no response to pain or overreaction to the sound of a door closing
- Restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
- Preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
Autistic children are not good in taking care of themselves. They are also delayed in speech development. Although they can speak, they find difficulty in communicating with others. On the other hand, they are very sensitive towards smell, taste, and touch. It is not uncommon to see them putting things in their mouth to smell, taste and touch them.
Effective Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autistic children have an extensive range of functional ability, behavioral issues, family situations, individual needs and idiosyncratic interests. Currently, education is the primary form of treatment for autism, including education for parents and teachers. Here are some important aspects of a successful intervention:
Because the needs of each autistic child are unique, educational programmes must properly match treatment strategies, services and supports to each child’s individual and family characteristics.
Systematic techniques help autistic children learn and practice practical skills and generalize those skills from one setting to another. For instance, one-on-one lessons should be conducted using a defined sequence that allows a child to predict what is coming next, and relate tangible rewards closely to a child’s correct responses.
Alternative Positive Behaviours
Reducing problem behaviour is important, and research has shown that to do this autistic children must be taught an alternative positive behaviour that will meet their needs equally well. Educators must address the purpose of the child’s problem behaviour, as well as the environmental and contextual factors.
Each family has unique characteristics that play a part in determining intervention success. Parents need to be involved in setting goals, selecting instructional strategies, and implementing these consistently at home and in community settings.
“Facts on Autism Spectrum Disorder”
- Affects 1 in 88 children
- Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls
- About 40% of children with autism do not speak. About 25%–30% of children with autism have some words at 12 to 18 months of age and then lose them. Others might speak, but not until later in childhood.
- Autism greatly varies from person to person (no two people with autism are alike)
- Children with autism do progress – early intervention is key