Q.1 What does it mean to be “on the spectrum”?
Autism is spectrum disorder which means the symptoms shown by individuals with Autism range from minimal to profound. Each child diagnosed with Autism can show different presentation of a care symptom and different severity of the symptom. ‘On the spectrum’ usually denotes when your child shows features of delayed speech, delayed socialisation and unsual behaviour.
Q.2 Why the number of ASD cases are going up each year?
The number of ASD cases is going up each year because of increased awareness and understanding of the disorder among the professional – Pediatricians, psychologists, and teachers. As we gain more and more knowledge about the signs and symptoms of this disorder it becomes easier for the parents to recognized Autism in their child. Also, due to increased media exposure through movies about Autism and public awareness campaigns, we are constantly being informed about what ASD is and how to recognize ASD.
Q.3 How to discipline an autistic child’s bizarre behaviour?
You can disciple a child’s behaviour by using behaviour change techniques such as reinforcement and punishment. You need to consult an applied behaviour therapist who can guide you to how to go about the various techniques to change your child’s behavior in a fruitful way.
Q.4 Does a cold conduct of family members cause Autism?
No, Autism is not caused by a cold conduct of family members. Several genetic, physiological, and environmental factors can cause or correlate with Autism but no research has shown that cold conduct of family members can cause Autism.
Q.5 Why does my child skip crawling, which is an important motor milestone?
Skipping crawling is generally seen in autism, which further leads to poor fine motor skills
Q.6 Why does my child keep looking at his/her fingers, rocking back and forth, spinning around and play inappropriately with toys?
One of major symptom of Autism is restricted and repetitive behavior. A child with Autism has difficulties processing sensory information i. e. stimulus we recognize by our senses. They do not understand how to regulate or channelize these stimuli. Simply put, they do not know what to “calm” themselves down when they are “overwhelmed” by the environment and hence they “overcompensate” by engaging in these repetitive behaviors. Additionally, play is not “fun” for them and they have learning difficulties which overall results in inappropriate play with toys.
Q.7 Is there anything like regressive Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Regressive autism occurs when a child appears to develop typically but then starts to lose speech and social skills, typically between the ages of 15 and 30 months, and is subsequently diagnosed with autism
Q.8 Is Autism accompanied by other associated conditions?
Yes, Autism can co-exist with others associated conditions. There is a co-morbidity between Autism and Intellectual Disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Seizure Disorder, and Anxiety Disorders.
Q.9 How does Autism differ from an intellectual disability?
Intellectual disability refers to difficulty in cognitive skills, rather than sensory issues. Simply put, understanding and comprehension level of a child is not age-appropriate. In Autism, a child has social-emotional impairments and restricted, repetitive behaviours rather than cognitive issues.
Q.10 Can we cure Autism Spectrum Disorder?
There is no such cure in ASD ,but the child can definitely pushed towards normalcy. Symptoms of Autism can be managed using medication and therapy.
Q.11 Are all children with Autism similar and identical?
Autism is a spectrum disorder which means that individuals diagnosed with Autism fall on a spectrum from mild or borderline symptoms to severe or profound symptoms. Also, there are several criteria used for the diagnoses of Autism. It is not necessary that each individual satisfies each criterion. Additionally, how a symptom or deficit is going to look in an individual can differ from person to person given. Thus, the type, severity, and presentation of Autism can differ in each child.
Q.12 Will my child ever be able to speak normally?
Autism children can learn to speak, but conversation and comprehension age appropriately will be an issue. They may require extensive speech therapy or alternative form of communication such as signs or pictures.
Q.13 Does my child need to undergo therapy sessions life long?
Children with Autism require therapy to manage their symptoms and increase quality of life. Whether the child will need therapy for life or a few years depends on the severity of the symptoms. With regular therapy in early stages of life, some children do not need therapy later in life. Others might need some form of maintenance therapy lifelong.
Q.14 Does behaviour of a child with autism, get worse with age?
Usually children with autism and their behaviour settle down with age. As a child grows older the symptoms may change. Hyperactivity and sensory issues usually reduce as a child becomes older. Social and emotional issues may persist.
Q.15 Is ADHD a part of Autism? How are these two conditions different?
ADHD and Autism are two different conditions although they do have some overlap with how the disorders presents. These disorders can co-exist in many children. ADHD is a form of disorder in which the prominent symptoms are lack or attention and hyperactivity whereas the prominent symptoms in ASD are deficits in social and emotion interactions and communication, and restricted repetitive behaviors.
Q.16 Why is my child hyperactive?
Autism children has sensory issues, hyperactive in other terms hyposensitivity towards vestibular system
Q.17 If the child is happy and making loud sounds with hand flapping. Does this come under hyperactivity?
Yes, hand flapping and making loud sounds are stereotypical behaviors i.e., they are interfering and repetitive behaviors. These behaviors are in excess to the normal amount of activity we do and hence come under the term “hyperactivity”.
Q.18 What is the probability that our next child will fall in the Autism Spectrum?
Studies show that the probability of a child having Autism is more if he/she has a sibling with Autism. Recent research indicates that 19% of younger siblings of individual with Autism develop Autism which is significantly higher than general population. This risk is 3 times greater in younger male sibling as compared to female children.
Q.19 Do children with Autism not socialize at all?
They do socialize depending upon the exposure they have received at an early stage in life. Teaching a child to participate in group activities and exposing him or her to social setting will help develop social skills from an early age.
Q.20 How to calm an ASD child during tantrums or cries?
To calm down an ASD child during tantrums we first need to understand why he is having a tantrum. He could be scared of loud sounds or he could be physically not well or he might want something. Once we understand the reason behind a tantrum we can address it. We need to find a correct solution i.e., if a child is crying because he is scared of loud sounds at a public place, we can provide him with noise canceller head-sets or if he wants something and is not able to convey that, we need to teach him to ask correctly.
Q.21 Can a child with Autism ever live an independent life?
Yes they can lead an almost independent life but they will need assistance
Q.22 Should I home school my child till he gains general understanding of simple commands?
Home schooling a child is beneficial if the child has not developed basic skills necessary to learn in a school. However, having a shadow teacher in a class will be most beneficial for the child. He will get opportunity to engage in social interactions and group activities in a school which he won’t get if he/she is home schooled.
Q.23 How vital is Sensory Integration in Occupational Therapy for autism?
Sensory integration therapy is based on the idea that some kids experience “sensory overload” and are oversensitive to certain types of stimulation. When children have sensory overload, their brains have trouble processing or filtering many sensations at once. Meanwhile, other kids are undersensitive to some kinds of stimulation. Kids who are undersensitive don’t process sensory messages quickly or efficiently. These children may seem disconnected from their environment. In either case, kids with sensory integration issues struggle to organize, understand and respond to the information they take in from their surroundings.Sensory integration therapy exposes children to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive manner. The theory behind this treatment approach is that, over time, the brain will adapt and allow them to process and react to sensations more efficiently. Supporters of this therapy say it can help kids learn and pay attention more efficiently too
Q.24 How to judge that a child with Autism has sensory issues?
Sensory issues are developed when a child cannot process incoming sensory information. Sensory information is the stimuli we receive from our senses i.e. eyes, mouth, ears, etc. Children with Autism are sometimes under sensitive or oversensitive to certain incoming stimuli and engage in behaviors to compensate for these needs. For example, a child might seek certain texture or avoid certain textures to satisfy his tactile needs
Q.25 How is ASD different from Asperger's Syndrome?
One of the major differences between Asperger’s syndrome and autism is that, by definition, there is no speech delay in Asperger’s. Asperger’s can be labelled as high functioning Autism.
Q.26 How to discipline an Asperger’s child?
Asperger’s child has milder symptoms and can function completely independently in society. They have good cognition and can be disciplined using behavior techniques such as token economy and behavior contracts and cognitive therapy such as thinking about consequences and teaching how to make good choices.
Q.27 How to teach autism children jump independently?
Gradually you can make your child start with jumping from a small height , later slowly increasing the height.
Q.28 Who determined which therapies are medically necessary for Autism condition?
Generally, paediatricians are the first to diagnose Autism. They prescribe medications and medical procedures if needed to manage the symptoms of the child. A clinical psychologist evaluates using observation and testing scales to determine if a child has Autism and what are his problem areas. Based on these findings, the psychologist refers children to different therapies and interventions.
Q.29 As a Parent, I am concerned I’ll have too much to do. Any advice?
You need to have patience , and be positive in all stages of life. Appreciate each change you notice in your child.