Autism is a complex neural-developmental disorder which results in communication, sensory, social and learning disabilities. It typically appears during the first three years of a person’s life. Autism occurs regardless of ethnicity, society, social-economic status, educational background or lifestyle. The disorder is genetically linked, and is not a problem associated with “poor parenting”.
The actual cause(s) of autism is not yet known and there has not been a cure found for it. Statistics report that 60% of children with typical autism will grow up dependent on adults in all aspects of life – which is one reason why there is a need to help alleviate the financial and emotional burdens of those caring for those with autism.
Autism varies from child to child in severity and manner. Sometimes it is so mild that a child can function in a regular classroom with special services. Sometimes it is so severe that a child is mute and institutionalised. Autistic people may also have a wide range of intellectual ability in mathematical or mechanical skills, or in music, memory and so on.
Not all children with autism will display the characteristics below, and some will display other behaviour patterns not mentioned here.
There is no single known cure for autism. But, through early intervention and rehabilitation programmes, a child with autism may just emerge from their autistic disabilities to function like a near-normal child.
Intensive early intervention programmes in optional education settings result in improved outcomes in most of the young children with autism including speech in 75% or more and significant improvements in rates of development progress and intellectual performances (Dawson and Ostering 1997; Rogers 1996, 1998).
There is always hope for autistic children to improve themselves. Even though not all children with autism have the potential, the right guidance and support has to be provided for them to be given a chance. If you have a child with autism, visit NASOM for a list of programmes that can help.