Saturday, August 30, 2008

Recognising autism in your child

Recognising autism in your child

Medical researchers are exploring different explanations for the various forms of autism but no single cause has yet been ascertained.

Autism is a neurological disorder defined as a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal, non-verbal communication, and social interaction usually evident by age three that significantly affects a child’s educational performance.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health between 2 and 6 per 1,000 people have some form of autism. It occurs four times more commonly in boys than girls.


* Engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements
* Resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines
* Unusual response to sensory experiences, examples: loud noises, light, certain textures of food or fabric
* Communication problems (using and understanding language)
* Difficulty relating to people, objects, and events
* Unusual play with toys and other objects
* Children with autism vary widely in ability, intelligence, and behaviour
* Nearly 40-50% with autism do not talk
* Others often use a language that include repeated phrases or conversations


Diagnosis should be made by a professional experienced in the evaluation of children with developmental disorders (clinical psychologist, pediatric neurologist etc).

Diagnosis is based on the history of the child’s development provided by those who know the child well, as well as clinical observation of the child No blood tests or brain tests conclusively identify the presence of autism. No definitive diagnosis can be made before age three. Autism is also frequently accompanied by mental retardation
Medical researchers are exploring different explanations for the various forms of autism but no single cause has yet been ascertained.

Current research links autism to biological and neurological differences in the brain, and to the sufferer’s genes. Licensed psychologists can administer tests that are specially designed to look at a child’s problem solving skills without language. Tasks include – matching pictures, sort by category, remember series of pictures, duplicate design with blocks etc.

A certified speech language pathologist (SLP) can evaluate a child’s ability to use these kinds of non – verbal communication like looking, pointing, gesturing, or making sounds.


No medication can cure autism, and no one medication is recommended for individuals with autism
Medicines are helpful only for specific target symptoms associated with autism like aggression towards self and others, seizures etc.

Behaviour modification techniques and functional analysis of the child’s problems are taught to parents through education and discussion by the therapist.

Dr Varsha Dutta
The author is a clinical neuropsychologist, BGS Global Hospitals and can be contacted on 9986113090

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