To all the people around me who thought I am behaving inappropriately,
My behavior is unacceptable,
To all those who assumed I am not understanding, I am not comprehending or I am not communicating.
I am being unresponsive to your commands.
It is just that my brain does not support my emotions,
A very minute difference at my neurodevelopmental stage caused me to become Mumm… while others spoke and expressed their feelings.
You really think I am crazy?
I harm myself unintentionally for several reasons and needs. Or I want to fulfil my emotional and physical gratification.
I may have under developed oxytocin system, which makes me more anxious and cause me to stay away from your touch.
I might be Alexithymic and you expect me to show gratitude for your every good act towards me.
My company ten to mortify you. Do you think my actions are unforgivably cringe worthy?
It is not my conscious act which makes me exhibit the behavior which does not fit your expectations.
I am Labeled and tagged as Autism.
I want to be a part of the society. I want to be involved in the society. All I ask is to include me with you. Can you give up all your prejudices and accept me the way I am?
– By Rukaiyah Shaikh|(Special Educator, Autism Spectrum Disorder)
Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Autism Spectrum Disorders is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It is often confused with Mental illness such as Schizophrenia. Autism is a broad Spectrum, a broad umbrella under which several neurological conditions are observed.
Autism shows developmental delays at all the stages of life.
Autism is a complex condition which influences an individual’s ability to socialize, effects the area of language and communication, and it impacts a person’s behavioral aspect.
Ability to socialize refers to: a person may be very introvert, they may feel left out or would not want to mingle with others. They may demonstrate socially unacceptable behavior.
The area of Language and communication remains underdeveloped. Some individuals may not have speech at all and few individuals may be expressive. They may not be able to initiate conversation. Or they initiate conversations but not sustain it.
Repetition of a particular behavior can be observed in Autistic Individual. We refer to it as stereotype or stereotypical behavior which is repetition of physical movements. For example: one of my student, he would keep flapping his hand, rocking their body or spinning continuously. I have observed few students which have Echolalia which id repetition of vocal sound.. So when I say “good morning”… they would keeping repeating good morning several times until I ask them to stop and talk about something else.
Autism disrupts the linkages between the brain and behaviors. Which is why we observe that Autistic individuals show maladaptive behavior.
A child with Autism May have comorbidities too. Such as they are sometimes hyperactive, Attention Deficit, they may have anxiety issues, Low IQ, Epileptic, Intellectually disabled, metabolic disorders, Allergic disorders etc.
A person with Autism will always want to follow the same pattern and will restrict himself to follow the same schedule every day. They show interest I the same object for a very long period of time without getting bored with it. They have a strict routine and they anyhow want to follow it. When anything out of their routine happens, they get disturbed and may demonstrate dislike towards it and straightaway deny to perform that particular activity.
There is no proven cause or vindication on why Autism is caused.
Autism is a combination of genetic, non-genetic, or external environmental factors. There can be pre natal, peri-natal and post natal factors which could be suspected as a cause of Autism. But it cannot be proven that it is a specific cause which has affected the child’s brain to function normally. The symptoms may have certain pathophysiology too… Autism has everything to do with brain since we are all aware that the brain is the central system which commands each and every part of us body including physical movements, behaviors and abstract such as feelings too.
Most of the children are not diagnosed until the age of 3, the reason is parents think that the child is taking his time to grow or the child will learn everything soon or later. Many a times the symptoms go unnoticed and the diagnosis is delayed.
If you child is not developing in normal pattern, consult a neuro specialist, Clinical Psychologist or your family doctor and monitor all the stages. Autism cannot be diagnosed by any blood tests done in the labs. Test Such as MRI, CT scan, Pet Scan Etc. would be of no help in the diagnosis procedure unless it is a case of hypoxia.
It is a clinical judgment of symptoms which help diagnose Autism. Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 month of Age.
Autism can be diagnosed with Standardized Clinical assessments such as IQ test, ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale), ADLS, CARS, GARS, DISCO
Degree of severity of Autism can be mild, moderate, severe and profound. Children with Mild Autism show very fewer symptoms and so the severely affected child will show the most problematic symptoms which will highlight his level of Need. Sometimes children with mild degree of Autism are diagnosed at an older age. Because caretakers or parents feel the child is consciously behaving in such a manner or he is introvert.
Autism makes a person feel agitated because of internal factors. Moreover, External stimuli tend to fluster them. Wherein they need to undergo certain treatments and therapies which help them overcome the challenges.
Unlike several diseases which can be totally cured, A person with Autism will always remain autistic. Autism can never be cured, since it is a permanent impairment. Rather constant support, care and therapies will help suppress the progressive behaviors. It will also help develop new behaviors which will assist the person to live a fruitful lifestyle.
(Tailor Made Therapy) every individual with autism needs tailor made therapy which is: the technique used to work with person ‘A’ may not work very well for person ‘B’. So we need to use different methods for different individuals.
If you want to work on repetitive behavior… Consult a Certified behavior therapist or a trained professional who will help the child modify the problematic repetitive behavior.
Professionals who help individuals with Special needs such as: Occupation therapist, they will work on the person’s fine motor skills, if the person is sensitive to touch and textures, and eye hand coordination and a lot more.
A physiotherapist who will work on gross motor skills of a person. They also work on the muscle tone in case if they are hypertonic or hypotonic etc.
Cognitive behavior therapist or Behavior analyst/therapist help to work on the persons behavioral aspects with constant practice and therapies.
A Special Educator will help develop adapted curriculum according to the student’s needs in order to accommodate them in the society. They also design long term and short term goals with respect to work on the behaviors of a person and much more.
Message to my readers: With the help of the above explanation, I hope I was able to communicate with you that Autism is not attained by one’s self. It is not under ones control and it takes a lot of efforts to understand a person with Autism. A person with Autism is already struggling with internal as well as external factors. We as a part of society should come forward, Spread awareness about autism and try to include Autistic individuals in the society. Every Individual on the earth has the right to live their life the way they want to. But Autistic Individuals are restricted because of societal norms and prejudices, they are not included and accommodated. We can take the first step and start with a simple term” Acceptance”. When we start accepting them, we will start finding ways to accommodate them and everything would fall in the right place.
-By Rukaiyah Shaikh (Special educator, Autism Spectrum Disorders)