April 27, 2022
Autism is a developmental disorder identified by deficits in socialization, communication and repetitive behaviors. Nearly 1 in 100 children, below the age of 10 years, in India have autism. The reported prevalence of autism has increased markedly since last three decades across the globe. Autism is one of the common developmental disability now and constitutes to the overall burden of the society.
Children with autism present with a range and severity of symptoms that vary widely in this group. This is the reason why autism is often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism is not a disease but can significantly impact an individuals’ life. It can affect the way an individual reacts or relates to the outside world. Some children with autism remain largely nonfunctional and need lifelong support, while others can live and work independently. The average age of onset of autism is between 2 to 3 years. But there are certain early indicators or signs that could help identify autism much earlier. A few of these early signs of autism include,
- delay in onset of babbling (i.e., making sounds as ba-ba, ma-ma, etc.) by 12 months, or delay in speaking the first meaningful word(s) by 16 months of age
- not responding to people talking but able to hear and react to other environmental sounds
- not making eye contact with others
- no interest in playing with peers or imaginative play
- does not like cuddling
- unusual or repetitive behaviors such as lining up or spinning of toys or objects in the house
- hyper/hypo sensitivity to light, sound, touch and taste stimuli
Parents and caregivers who suspect that a child has any of these early signs of autism, must seek professional advice as soon as possible. Delay in identification and initiation of treatment could lead to deprivation of social and peer interaction, loss of schooling or education and severe behavioral problems in these children. Early identification and timely intervention can help children and families to manage some of these challenges in a better way and improve the overall quality of life.
Different professionals help and support children with autism to achieve desirable outcome. A Speech Language Pathologist helps the child to communicate, understand and express daily needs. An occupational therapist works on activities of daily living, and a psychologist works on child’s behavioral and emotional skills. An early and comprehensive intervention can therefore maximize the chances of improvement and utilization of the full potential of the child.
April 2 is celebrated as the ‘World Autism Awareness Day’, and April month as ‘Autism Awareness Month’ every year. This particular day was first celebrated in 1972 by the Autism society in America. Autism awareness day and month is celebrated to create public awareness about autism, encourage acceptance, celebrate differences and be inclusive towards individuals with autism. The World Autism Month aims to push back against stigma and dissipate myths related to autism. Let us all understand, accept and support individuals with autism to make their life better!
Please contact department of Speech and Hearing, Kasturba Hospital, Manipal for more details on assessment and intervention of autism.
Phone No: 0821-2922748, 29 23738