All of us must have watched at least 1 of these movies, Barfi, Koi Mil Gaya, My Name is Khan, Black and the very famous Taare Zameen Par. If you realize, all these movies have one element in common, a mentally challenged patient with difficulty in communication and social interaction. Well, all these characters suffered from a group of developmental disorders that is labeled as autism.
So what exactly is autism?
Autism refers to a group of developmental disorders characterized by difficulty in social interaction, communication and repetitive behavior. These diseases affect the individual since birth but are picked up or noticed by family by the time child turns two.
When to suspect autism?
If a child fails to make eye contact, respond to his/her name, point at objects of interest and experiences difficulty in showing emotions at the age of 18 to 24 months, a suspicion of autism should be made. These children may appear normal till the age of 1, and may then exhibit developmental reversal/regressal. Other symptoms include unusual anxiety, hyperactivity, impulsive and aggressive behavior. If the child has an aforementioned presentation, he should be taken to the pediatrician and screened for autism. Autism specific screening is recommended at the age of 18 and 24 months.
What causes autism?
This disorder is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Viral infection by rubella virus and cytomegalovirus have been strongly postulated to cause the disease.
What to do if a child has autism?
To begin with, try to get as much knowledge of the disease as possible, rather than staying in depression or denial. The earlier one starts treatment, the better outcome is seen in the child. Create a positive environment for the child and help him learn basic skills. Try to avoid situations and substances that provoke anxiety in the child. All he/she needs to lead a normal happy life is your support.