Bringing up an autistic child can be a challenging task. Many parents feel guilty or frustrated when they cannot communicate with their kid. But with a combination of patience, love and remedial behavioral treatments,
you can help him or her gain valuable social and communication skills.
Ignorance about the disorder means a late diagnosis and hence, delay in important early therapy. “I was so shocked when a couple came to me the other day and said they didn’t know anything about the disorder, when their child was suffering from it,” recounts Dr Surabhee Soni, clinical psychologist at Fortis La Femme.
However, attempts are being made to spread awareness about autism, an example being television serial Aap Ki Antara.
What is autism?
Autism is a brain development disorder that, according to the Autism Society of India, affects one in 250 people in the country. Symptoms appear during infancy itself and include:
Impaired social interaction n Repetitive behaviour
Attachment to objects rather than persons
Difficulty in expressing emotions
Aggressive behaviour and tendency to get frustrated quickly if they cannot communicate what they are thinking or feeling
Language learning and communication difficulty
Obsessive or compulsive behaviour
Resistance to change
Sleep and eating disorders
While there is no known cure for autism, there’re many ways in which parents can help autistic children, says Dr Soni. The various treatment options include:
Intensive and sustained special education programs, which include structured teaching
Speech and language therapy
Social skills therapy, occupational therapy and family therapy
Supportive therapy for parents, to teach them how to deal with the problem and accept their child’s special needs
In some cases, when the behavioural treatments fail, doctors may prescribe some medications to help the child.
How to help your child
Be patient and don’t lose temper. Remember, your child isn’t misbehaving on purpose.
Establish a routine. Be consistent in the actions and words you use to interact with your child.
Use a repetitive, ongoing teaching approach. An autistic child can sometimes take weeks to learn the alphabet.
Look for remedial treatment options
Contact organisations like — Institute for Remedial Intervention Services (www.autismindia.com), Autism Society of India (www.autismsocietyofindia.org), and Action for Autism (www.autism-india.org)