Children and adults with autism or who fall under the autistic spectrum are those individuals with neurological conditions or impairments who are both physically as well as mentally challenged. But what we commonly fail to understand from this is that even with the many challenges that these children and even adults face, autistic individuals have excellent cognitive abilities and are extremely intelligent. They can do the same amount as well as the same kind of work that any so-called colloquially normal human beings can perform.
Autistic children and individuals are known for their cognitive abilities since they have speech impairments and struggle to convey their feelings and emotions. Often the restlessness and the crankiness is in relation to expressing their feelings and emotions since they cannot do so due to their speech impairment and the different neurological challenges that they go through. To understand autistic individuals, the life that they lead and the difficulties they face, we first need to understand the autism spectrum and autism as a challenge or disability.
One of the main as well as most important understanding and outlook we must have towards an austistic child or an autistic individual is to make sure that we do not label them as disabled or ‘autistic.’ We must, rather, make sure to understand and respect that these are children or individuals who are ‘special’ and are in need of special care as well as special needs.
Autism or also called as Austistic Spectrum Disorder in the simplest words is a neurological disorder that can be genetic or a problem that occurs during the mutation of genes and cells when the individual is inside the mother’s womb. Autism is mainly characterised and understood by the effect on the nervous system in an individual which adversely affects the person’s physical, mental, social as well as emotional health and well being.
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Autism is dictated by the problems or challenges that an autistic child or autistic individual faces during social interactions since these individuals only communicate through non-verbal means and are not always necessarily understood and accepted inside a social circle. In fact, most of the time, these individuals are left out of social circles thereby increasing their insecurities and worsening their confidence and social skills as well as abilities.
Autistic children or autistic individuals are also characterized by their recurrent as well as repetitive patterns of behaviors, interest as well as activities. A change in their everyday lifestyle or regular patterns sets out triggers and lashes from the side as well as the point of view of the person dealing with autism. Something we fail to realize is that the discomfort and insecurities that these individuals go through are only worsened by the way we view them as well as shun them from the eyes of society due to fears of judgement, tease and unknown actions that may occur from the individual suffering from the disorder as well.
An autistic individual or child is in almost all ways possible equal to a neurotypical or a colloquially normal individual. The cognitive skills, understanding as well as the brain capacity of an autistic child, especially in certain cases have a chance of even exceeding that of a neurotypical human being. Autism can also be characterized by an individual’s problem or challenge with communication as well as behavior.
In order to understand autism we need to understand that autism is a condition that affects the different bodily developments of an individual, mostly occurring before the age of three. It is a lifelong impairment or disability that these individuals have to live with. What we fail to see is that it is not only the individuals who suffer, but the impairments also have a way of taking a toll on the caregiver of the autistic individual as well.
Autism Awareness, Relevance and Research
It is always essential to keep in mind that any kind of disability or challenge should not be labelled so. It must be made known that individuals suffering from such ailments are those who are in need of special care, special concern as well as special needs and it is always of utmost importance to be understanding as well as empathetic to this.Especially as a neurotypical person, one must never have feelings of superiority or of ‘being the greater individual’ just due to the fact that the particular individual does not suffer from any such impairment.
In today’s world especially, one with technological boosts and a world that thrives with it’s social media life, it is extremely important and an intense need to spread awareness, understanding as well as empathy on autism just as it is important to talk about and create awareness and understanding on other mental and physical health conditions. There is even a special day known as ‘The Autism Awareness Day’ that is observed every year on the second of April as a token of acceptance as well as inclusivity to autistic children and autistic individuals.
Surely the observation of a special day for these individuals is not the only solution or the way out to solving and accepting these individuals into the hands of society. But the mark of this day every year and the fact that it is observed as well as recognised by people nowadays is in itself a big stepping stone into a world of change, inclusion and humanity.
But even with such a rise in technology and artificial intelligence in a world that thrives on robots and machines, it is not only surprising but also sad that there has been no cure found to the challenge of autism up until this day and age. Autism research is now gaining recognition and importance, especially in the USA. In the recent past, it has come to the forefront that the research and the finding of solutions to autism is a slow and a largely complex process.
It has now been found that autism develops in individuals due to either of the two factors. One is, genetic conditions and genetic mutations. While the other is environmental factors that seem to be a large contributor to the rise and growth of the condition or abnormality. There have been records of a small level of clinical trials that have been conducted and that have also failed in the treatment of autism, which has now come to light.
The research and findings on autism have mostly been based on preliminary trials as well as statistics or trends which have given out or come up with nothing but false leads which have further put a pause to the research and findings of autism and autistic studies and understanding. But with growing technology and rapid growth in genetics as well, there is hope for a cure or a proper study, research as well as trial to the special needs of autism.
Austistic Children and their Parents : Difficulties and Tips to Cope
Due to the disability of autism being one that affects emotional, physical as well social health and well being of an affected individual, it only makes it that much more difficult for the child or the individual and their parents or caregivers. The reduced ability in these spheres affects the child which develops him or her to become cranky and restless and thereby putting out their emotions in the form of crying, biting, screaming and non-cooperation among other ways and methods.
Tantrum throwing as well as attention seeking are two of the top most methods that these autistic kids or individuals use in order to express themselves. While we try to be as understanding as we can, these behaviours also tend to become frustrating, overbearing as well as overwhelming to another person, especially the parent or the caregiver due to their contact with the autistic individual all around the clock, day in and day out.
Changes in schedules and routines become the worst nightmare to these children. Since in many cases of autism, there are also cases of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder where changes in everyday life offer the biggest trauma to such individuals. We must understand that with all the challenges that these autistic kids or individuals face, it only becomes more traumatic when incidents of daily life take a different turn.
Since their cognitive, physical and mental well being and health is on the lower side, sticking to routines, actions and interests that they have already accustomed themselves to becomes the safe space around which they operate and function. Thus a change in this is horrific to these affected children since it is all the more work and all the more scary for them as they have to seek, learn, understand and adjust to new and unfamiliar things, thus, making them step out of their comfort zones and safe spaces.
As such steps out of safe spaces as well as comfort zones are scary to even neurotypical people, it is only all the more understandable why it is so for such affected children and individuals.
Although it is very difficult, it is also very important to understand and carry out certain steps and methods while giving care and special attention to these individuals. One can start off with simple measures of understanding and empathising while also being patient and staying positive, no matter how hard it may seem since the child also inadvertently gets affected from the behaviours of their external surroundings.
Other methods can be through teaching a child how to express anger without appearing too aggressive, or by also remaining resilient in our endeavours. Physical activity is one of the main methods one can follow in order to cope with almost all issues, for those, both, advantaged as well as disadvantaged.
Other steps we can resort to taking is that while we are being ignorant to attention seeking behaviour, it is also very important that we remain affectionate and respectful in our words, actions as well as thoughts. While also looking after the child, one must always remember to believe in the abilities of the child and remember to take care of oneself as well, in the process. Along with this, one must also always remember that one can learn many things from these children as well and one should never be dismissive about them and their abilities.
It is always so much easier to read and write about understanding and looking into the challenges of such specialised children and special needs individuals. While when on the actual forefront, it is most often than not a struggle, an almost everyday battle that only most of us cannot even begin to imagine. Both, autistic children, individuals as well as their parents and caregivers deserve major respect, admiration and applause for their growth, patience and kindness even through all their difficulties and challenges. Therefore, we must always remember that autism is different, but never less.
- What are the different kinds of autism?
Autism is a special need that occurs in different forms since it is after all in the presence of an autism spectrum which consists of different ranges. The four different kinds of autism are namely, autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder as well as pervasive developmental disorder.
- Are ADHD and OCD a part and parcel of Autism?
Although there are a good number of similarities between ADHD and Autism as well as OCD and Autism, neither of the two are necessarily a part and parcel or any kind of Autism. The only commonality is that the symptoms between ADHD and Autism are in many ways similar while a good amount of Autistic cases also have OCD, neither are a kind of autism or even a symptom or part of Autistic special needs.
- Do autistic individuals have a specific growth span?
No, autistic individuals do not have a specific growth period. They are known not to have a considerably long life but they can all the same, live the same life as that of a neurotypical individual. In specific though, research has found that the average age of an autistic individual is around the age of 36 years.
- What are the likely outcomes in case autism is not treated or looked into?
While autism may have its own challenges, the right treatment and care only increases the benefits to the individual’s life, which can even help them lead a life exactly or almost similar to that of a neurotypical person. But if it is not treated and cared for appropriately, then it only fails to develop the individual’s social skills and behaviours which only open doors for further challenges.
- Interacting with a Child Who Has Autism Spectrum Disorder – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center