Post Mortem

‘Autism is not a disability, it is a unique abili

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/1/2019 12:33:32 PM IST

 We see things differently. Having Autism means being different. Not less. Rs Autism Society

What is autism? Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability, typically appearing during childhood and affecting a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.

How common is autism? According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014), about 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder. People from all nationalities and cultural, religious and social backgrounds can be autistic, although it appears to affect more men than women.

Who are autistic? Autistic individuals are those who see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. However, increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.

Learn the signs: Early identification can change lives. Autism is treatable. Individuals with autism do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. Children with autism spectrum disorder usually show some signs of delayed development before age 2 years.

Autistic people may also be under- or oversensitive to certain sounds, lights, colors and other things, known as sensory sensitivity. These characteristics are present over time and have a noticeable effect on daily life.Autistic people often do not ‘look’ disabled. Some parents of autistic children say that other people simply think their child is naughty, while adults find that they are misunderstood.

Treatment and management: Just decades ago, many people with autism were placed in institutions. Professionals were less educated about autism than they are today, and specific services and supports were largely non-existent. The picture is much clearer now. With appropriate services and supports, training and information, children on the autism spectrum will grow, learn and flourish, even if at a different developmental rate than others.

While there is no known cure for autism, there are treatment and education approaches that can address some of the challenges associated with the condition. Intervention can help to lessen disruptive behaviors, and education can teach self-help skills for greater independence. But just as there is no one symptom or behavior that identifies people with autism, there is no single treatment that will be effective for everyone on the spectrum. Individuals can use the positive aspects of their condition to their benefit, but treatment must begin as early as possible and focus on the individual’s unique strengths, weaknesses and needs.

It is important to match a child’s potential and specific needs with treatments or strategies that are likely to help him/her reach established goals and greatest potential.The basis of a treatment plan should come from a thorough evaluation of the child’s strengths and weaknesses.

If you are concerned visit your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Usually a multi-disciplinary diagnostic team, often including a speech and language therapist, pediatrician, psychiatrist and/or psychologist helps in the formal identification of autism.Getting a timely and thorough assessment and diagnosis may be helpful becauseit helps autistic people (and their families, partners, employers, colleagues, teachers and friends) to understand why they may experience certain difficulties and what they can do about them. Autism is not a disability, it is a unique ability. 

Dr. Watinaro Longkumer, HoD, Psychology and 

Counselling, St Joseph 

University, Dimapur

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