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Does your child have Autism? Early detection, family support crucial, say experts

By Deepika
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    As a parent, you never want to believe that your child has a problem. But when it comes to autism, catching it early ideally by the age of eighteen months makes a huge difference. But no matter your child's age, don't lose hope. Treatment can reduce the disorder's effects and help your child learn, grow, and thrive.

    International Autim Conference held in Bengaluru

    A two-day International Autism Conference organised by Behavior Momentum India Foundation which began in Bengaluru on Saturday has thrown light upon various aspects of Autism from Diagnosis to treatment.

    Addressing the gathering, key note speaker and Senior Professor (retired) NIMHANS, Dr. Shobha Srinath said that, "Dealing with autism demands a lot of hard work and some fun on the way. Diagnosis takes time. But it is imperative for families with autistic children to have a home programme for them to grow and that there was also a need to intervene as soon as possible."

    "If there is a slight delay in speech, it must be looked into immediately. There is no need to label the child with any disorder but it is important to seek consultation," she said.

    She also pointed out the need for families to have clarity in understanding deficits. Also if the child has a younger sibling, he or she needs to be paid extra attention as they may be at a higher risk of developing autism.

    "Autism spectrum disorder is a kind of neuro developmental disorder. If a child is diagnosed with development disorder it requires thorough medical examination, also co-occurrence of various conditions such as autism with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or identity disorder is high, ," she said. In such cases parents must keep a log book, to track the child's development, she stressed.

    Since we are talking about Autism let us have a brief look at what it is

    What is Autism?

    Autism spectrum disorder appears in infancy and early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, play, and interact with others.

    The signs and symptoms of autism vary widely, as do its effects. Some children with autism have only mild impairments, while others have more obstacles to overcome. However, every child on the autism spectrum has problems, at least to some degree, in the following three areas:

    Symptoms

    • Communicating verbally and non-verbally
    • Relating to others and the world around them
    • Thinking and behaving flexibly
    • Make eye contact, such as looking at you when being fed or smiling when being smiled at
    • Respond to his or her name, or to the sound of a familiar voice
    • Follow objects visually or follow your gesture when you point things out Point or wave goodbye, or use other gestures to communicate
    • Make noises to get your attention
    • Initiate or respond to cuddling or reach out to be picked up
    • Imitate your movements and facial expressions

    Early detection

    There are different opinions among doctors, parents, and experts about what causes autism and how best to treat it. There is one fact, however, that everyone agrees on: early and intensive intervention helps. For children at risk and children who show early signs, it can make all the difference.

    Children who receive autism-appropriate education and support at key developmental stages are more likely to gain essential social skills and react better in society. Essentially, early detection can provide an autistic child with the potential for a better life. Parents of autistic children can learn early on how to help their child improve mentally, emotionally, and physically throughout the developmental stages with assistance from specialists.

    Parent's role

    The strain of caring for an autistic child can be an everyday challenge, but with early preparation and intervention, parents can prepare themselves for the road ahead emotionally and mentally.

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