A disease of uncertain causation, autism (or Pervasive Developmental Disorder) is a developmental disorder of
the brain, due to which the child has difficulty in
communication and in socialisation. It is much more common than previously
thought — the incidence of autism the world over is
about 2 per 1000 persons, and is 4 times more common in boys
than girls. The exact cause of autism is as yet unknown, but
we do know that it is not caused by events after birth, such
as a difficult delivery or a certain way of bringing up a
Reveals Dr. Vibha Krishnamoorthy, an expert on developmental disorders, “The stereotype of an
autistic child being alone in a corner rocking himself or being unable
to show affection is not necessarily true. It is now
recognised that autism is a ‘spectrum’ disorder that can vary
greatly in the way it presents.”
SYMPTOMS: All children with autism have 3 main areas that are affected:
- Language is usually
delayed. Speech may also be unusual, in the form of repeating the same word or phrase over and over again, or repeating the question that was asked. The child may also have difficulty using
language meaningfully, such as initiating a conversation, or asking-relevant questions.
- Socialisation: The child with
autism is less interested in socialising with other children than his peers. He
may prefer to play alone. There may be difficulty getting
him to make eye contact. The child may also have trouble taking turns, e.g. throwing a ball back and forth.
- Unusual behaviours: Children
with autism have a need for sameness. They may prefer to do certain things the
same way, such as liking the day’s routine, or lining
up their toys in the same way. They may show some unusual behaviours such as rocking, spinning, hand
flapping or watching lights.
It is not necessary for a child to have all the above
features for the diagnosis of autism.
TREATMENT: Although there is no cure for autism, early diagnosis by an expert is extremely important, as early
behavioural and educational intervention can lead to improvements. With help, almost every autistic child
will make progress and can lead a satisfying life.
7 March, 2016