Autism is a developmental disability that is observed across lifespan. It affects the ability of a person to make sense of the world and relate with others. Autism comes from ‘autos’, the Greek word for ‘self ‘, and a person with autism is often referred to as someone who lives in a world of his own.
So Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
Autism has many subtypes and the causes may be due to environmental and genetic factors.
Signs of Autism:
Parents must know about the typical developmental milestones of children so that they can pick up early signs of Autism. Please note that timing and intensity of signs of autism differs. We may pick some of them as early as 14 to 15 months while for some it becomes evident around age 2 to 3.
There are no specific guidelines on what “good” or “best” intervention works for children with Autism. But some evidence-based interventions are supported by research for their effectiveness.
Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children Method (TEACCH) developed by University of North Carolina.
Physical Structure : Physical environment and routines are clearly defined by physical boundaries.
Consistent Schedules : Makes life predictable and less stressful as they follow a visual routine of pictures and/or words.
System of Work : also called Works system. This defines expectations and measures the progress as a self-monitoring tool that promotes independence.
Routines: consistency in routines reduces the anxiety around social and work demands.
Visual structure: It helps the children with autism to navigate through, with cues for reminders and instructions. Where am I? What am I expected to do? What do I do first and next? How do I measure the progress of my work?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): This technique systematically breaks down the tasks from simple to complex, into sub-skills and these skills are taught intensely one by one.
This is effective in improving specific behaviors, such as social skills, communication, reading, and academics as well as adaptive learning skills, such as fine motor dexterity, hygiene, grooming, domestic capabilities, punctuality, and job competence.
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): Persons with Autism benefit if they are provided with more visual form of communication such as objects referents, pictures, or symbols. PECS approach is a modified applied behavior analysis program designed for early non-verbal symbolic communication training. It does not teach speech. Some children with Autism may have the receptive skills, but may choose to be non-oral. Essentially when combined with reinforcement techniques, we can facilitate spontaneous social communication once the persons with Autism figure it out that PECS enables them to express, regulate, direct/redirect, clarify, and share through communication. Families can leverage on meal times as a motivator for the child to request for food or keep favourite play items within the visual field of the child so that they are motivated to request for it by drawing attention of the caregiver.Click here to know more