It’s something to do with the brain, an already complex human body organ that not too many scientist have studied that elaborately. If the brain functions is so complicated and nobody has figured out how it really works for a “normal” what more for a person who has autism.
In truth, ASD is not rare, 1 out of 150 children (1:7 ratio of female to male) every year are diagnosed with it, how much more the undiagnosed. Although there is no available statistics here in the Philippines , the Center for Autism and Related Diseases (CARD) gathered that there is about more than 300,000 individuals who have ASD and other related disorder but this excludes those undiagnosed.
Why autism is just so popular now? Maybe because of The Rain Man, A Beautiful Mind and Jenny McCartney, two movies and a very popular celebrity who is not ashamed to talk about this issue. There was a movie/documentary in the 1960s it’s called Invisible Walls it was not so popular as The Rain Man or A Beautiful Mind but it tackles this disorder just the same and more intensely.
Acceptance is the key to help your child with autism and not denial. I have come to terms that my daughter has autism, but with abilities, since one case vary, some can be severe some can be very mild that it is barely noticeable because of early interventions.
Yes, there is no cure or a miracle drug to make your child on the “normal” spectrum. And I strongly oppose the use of drugs to tame a misunderstood child.
Intervention will help greatly for them to adopt with their changing environment especially when they are away from their comfort zones and that their behavior can become more acceptable and go mainstream. Do something now while you can. Never delay. The more you delay the more it becomes difficult for you to handle your child and for your child to adopt at a certain level to social norms.
The first step is to get a diagnosis. Find a health professional who has had enough training and experience in managing developmental disabilities. A developmental physician, neurologist or child psychiatrist are some of your best bet. But do not stick to one diagnosis, get a second opinion, maybe a third. The tricky part is a child can’t be diagnosed properly to have autism at an early age of 1 year to 2 years as they might conclude that the child could just have developmental delays, like what was diagnosed before about my daughter.
Once diagnose find a suitable educational/intervention program. There are a very few special education facilities here in the Philippines still, and in other countries as well. Here in the Philippines, despite having Special Education (SPED) section in public schools, it caters to a wide conditions like hearing impared, down syndrom, cerebral palsy.
To help your child with autism improve on her behavior and minimize those inappropriate behaiviors and also depending on the recommendation of your developmental doctor. Your child will be suggested to undergo one or all of the following:
1) Physical Therapy
This is to develop strenght and coordination that will involve the use of playground and exercise equipment. Physical expercises can also be prescribed to help your child calm down so that he or she can focus better on school and work and develop his abilities to follow instructions and provide a pattern to repetitive actions.
2) Occupational Therapy
This is to develop functional movements that will involve an occupational therapist that will evaluate the physical abilities of your child in relation to how to use these in therapeutic activities. The therapist can also assess your child’s sensory responses and set priority areas which will help make other forms of intervention more effective. Sensory integration techniques can then be used to help control your child’s hypersensitivity to external stimuli and to modulate his responses to them.
3) Speech Therapy
This develops your child’s ability to say specific sound and later words and also assist your child in developing a functional and socially reciprocal way of communication verbally and non-verbally.
4) Speech Pathology
This involves diagnosing specific speech disorders, formulating individualized treatment protocol, monitoring and evaluating otucomes of treatment.
Anyway, reading materials available on the internet really is not enough to calm a confused parent or caregiver. I suggest that a parent, caregiver and other family members should attend a similar course that I attended to understand ASD and feel the empowerment I feel right now.
In January 2009, Rita Jordan, a very known advocate for autism awareness and education, will be coming here in the Philippines for a two day convention that will tackle about Adolescent with Autism. I hope to see you there.