The world of a child with autism

AGNES is five years old but is yet to speak in a meaningful way. She tends to use a limited number of words and often uses ‘you’ when she means to refer to herself, and then uses ‘I’ when referencing others.  Unlike the older two children of the family, Agnes is often pre-occupied with her own world, playing alone and does not seem to show any emotional attachment to the parents or her siblings.

She is, however, very rigid about the order of doing her things, or the use of a regular routine. She becomes very upset whenever her way of doing things is changed, even a little bit, and would start banging her head against the wall or biting her hand while screaming continuously. She also loves to watch things that are rotating such as the ceiling fan, and can actually spend up to an hour in one position just watching the ceiling fan or any object that is turning or spinning without getting tired.

Some of the family friends think she is just a spoilt child who likes to get her way but the parents are becoming more worried, especially due to her poor speech and emotional detachment. Otherwise, physical growth and appearance have been normal.

 

What is autism

Autism is a developmental disorder in childhood which is not evident at birth or early in life, but only becomes obvious as the child grows older and one begins to expect the child to attain certain skills and behaviours. So, the failure to attain these skills, as well as the evidence of certain patterns of behaviour during the development of the child is what makes it clear that the child, such as Agnes above, may have some difficulties. This is why it is called a developmental disorder – a problem that only becomes apparent over time and in the course of expected development.

 

What are the symptoms of autism?

Common symptoms are usually in three categories. 1). Communication and language challenges. 2). Difficulties with social behaviour and 3). Lack of flexibility and a rigid preference for the same routine. Several children with autism have challenges such as a delay in acquiring meaningful speech as we saw with Agnes above. They may also have difficulties understanding others or communicating their wishes. This often leaves them frustrated and may result in their throwing tantrums or banging their heads.

The social difficulties often derive from their inability to understand other people’s emotions and how to respond appropriately. For example, Agnes may not understand the difference between a sad face, a happy face or an angry face. She would not understand for example, that if Mummy is crying, it means she is sad. Thus, the child may appear emotionally cold and detached. They may consistently avoid looking at people directly, which also appears odd.

Other common problems include love for fixed routine, such as the use of the same cup, plate or spoon; or following the same pattern of activities after returning from school every single day, without any change. Attempts to change the routine will result in a severe emotional reaction and tantrums. This aspect may explain why some people think the child is just spoilt. Some children with autism may also be highly sensitive to sounds, light or have some special dietary problems.

It is important to note that autism is a spectrum of symptoms and not every patient is exactly the same. Some may be severely affected by all the different types of problems, while some others may only have minimal problems, such as being very awkward socially. Some of these children may be particularly brilliant – almost like a genius in a narrow area of functioning, such as calculation, music, solving codes and puzzles e.t.c.

 

What are the causes of autism?

Many factors are thought to play a role in the development of autism, but they ultimately result in a disorder of brain development and functioning – especially the ‘wiring’ of the brain which regulates emotional behavior and communication.

 

What can be done for these children?

The single most important goal of therapy for children with autism is to minimise the impact of their difficulties while identifying and maximising the unique potential of each child. So, it is important to have a good evaluation and assessment, followed by providing education to the parents/caregivers. It is important to carry the parents along and respond to their own emotional needs too, such as feelings of guilt, disappointment or despair which may occur.

Speech and language therapy may help them to improve their communication skills while behavioral therapies provide assistance with difficult behaviours. Hypersensitivity to sounds for example can also be minimised by use of headphones. Additional medical problems may be treated with medications. In summary, a multi-disciplinary approach involving different specialists is often required.

 

 

 

YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

Buy and read digital replicas of your TRIBUNE titles by subscribing through E-VENDING

Pantami Used Armed Officers To Evict Our Staff, Abike Dabiri Alleges
The chairman, Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has alleged that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami used armed security men to eject NIDCOM from the offices which they occupied in the NCC building located at Mbora District… Read full story

Naira Set To Rally As CBN, ABCON Finalise BDCs’ Resumption Of Forex Sale
The naira is facing its greatest risk from the COVID-19 pandemic as currency speculators continue to make spurious demand for dollar with the hope of making good returns from the rising gaps between… Read full story

MONDAY LINE: Buhari’s Fifth May 29
MUHAMMADU Buhari’s first coming was from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985. It was a period of famine and pestilence; of queues for coins and corn and of lean liberty. His second coming will be five years old on Friday. Can he sit back and use his tongue to count his teeth? What has changed between his past… Read full story

China Tells US To Stop Wasting Time In Coronavirus Battle
The US should stop wasting time in its fight against the coronavirus and work with China to combat it, rather than spreading lies and attacking the country, the Chinese Government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, said on Sunday. The Sino-US ties have nosedived since the outbreak of the new coronavirus… Read full story

The Continued Harassment Of Essential Workers
NOT a few Nigerians were miffed by the reports of arbitrary arrests and continued harassment of essential workers by the police immediately after the recent extension by the Federal Government of the partial lockdown and curfew imposed across the country to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Initially,many thought that the police operatives were at it again, acting outside their briefs for pecuniary gain… Read full story

Subsidy Removal: Those Who Can’t Fix Refineries Should Give Way ― NLC
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned that the Federal Government should not talk about; or contemplate fuel price increase; even as it stated that subsidy is a cover-up for inefficiency and corrupt in the system. The NLC gave this position, as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association… Read full story

The Looming Fiscal Crisis And The Wisdom Of Awolowo
In terms of financial wizardry and sheer genius in economic statecraft, the only master I bow to is the legendary sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. I believe he was an extraordinary statesman and an economic genius to boot. Former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon once observed: “If you know of a man greater… Read full story

COVID-19: Curfew Now 8pm To 5am In Oyo
The Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force, on Sunday, relaxed the existing curfew imposed on the state in respect of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic to between 8 pm and 5 am. A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr Taiwo Adisa, confirmed that the decision was reached at the… Read full story

Adeboye Speaks On How Coronavirus Will End, Urges Nigerians Not To Panic
The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye on Sunday said only a big miracle would make the deadly coronavirus pandemic leave the world completely. Pastor Adeboye stated this on Sunday during a live broadcast to his members on Dove… Read full story

Southeast Governors Meet In Enugu, Explain Delay In Implementation Of Zonal Security Outfit
GOVERNORS of the Southeast geo-political zone on Sunday explained why they are foot-dragging on the commencement of their zonal security outfit, saying that the Inspector-General of Police is not keeping with the agreement they reached with him… Read full story

No Rift Between Makinde And I ― Oyo Deputy Governor
Contrary to speculation of a cold war between him and his boss, Oyo State Deputy Governor, Raufu Olaniyan, has said there is no rift whatsoever. Olaniyan described the relationship between him and Governor Seyi Makinde as “robust and cordial… Read full story

Buhari Tasks Farmers On Massive Food Production, Says ‘No Money For Food Importation’
President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged Nigerian farmers on the need to embark on massive productive agricultural activities this farming season as Nigeria has no money for food importation. The president gave the challenge shortly after observing this year’s Eid prayer alongside members of… Read full story

You might also like
Comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More