KOCHI: A serious developmental disorder that impairs a child’s communication and social interaction skills, autism is a condition that escapes early detection in most cases chiefly due to lack of awareness among parents. If left untreated, autism spectrum disorder can affect the overall cognitive, emotional, social and physical health of the affected child. The silver lining, say experts, is that timely and effective treatment in case of early detection can help keep the condition largely under control.
Experts opine that if proper treatment were to be sought before the age of three, there are better chances of recovery, even within six to nine months. On the other hand, if the condition were detected at the age of 10, it may take over a year to recover. “It is very important that the early signs are identified and proper treatment is sought. As age increases, treatment becomes difficult.
Since it is not a disease, there is no medicine. It is through therapy that we treat, and to yield better results, age is a crucial factor. If treatment is not started early, chances of recovery are rare,” said Joint Director of Jewel Autism and Child Development Centre (JACDC) in Kottayam Jency Blesson.
Diagnosis of autism is possible at around 18 months. The issues with communication--both verbal and non-verbal-- and eye contact are some of the major warning signs. “Normally, at the age 1, kids should start talking, at two, they should be able to speak up to two joint words and at 3, they should be able to speak three-word sentences.
This is the normal development pattern. If the child is not talking at age 1, first make sure that the child does not have any hearing problems and then rule out autism. Another concern these days is excessive mobile use. Children aged below 2 should not be allowed to watch TV or use mobile phones. From 2-5 years one hour can be allowed,” said paediatrician Abraham K Paul.
“In the case of a child pre-disposed towards autism, excess mobile use will lead to further autism-related problems,” he said. “Autism is a complex condition that involves communication and behavioral challenges. Even now, we get children at late stages. JACDC coordinates and conducts therapy sessions for around 280 children from across 26 countries,” said Jency.
“In most of the cases, when speech difficulty is noticed in kids, they are taken to speech therapy centres and special schools. Parents should understand that this is one of the major signs of autism. Therapy sessions will be able to take care of behavioural changes. Through Childhood Autism Scale, the intensity of the autism can be understood. Behavioural therapy, social skill training, sensory integration therapy and remedial education, are all part of the treatment,” added Jency.
Major issues faced by children with developmental issues
Communication difficulties: Unlike other kids, they will have difficulty in understanding and communicating with others
Social interaction: Not able to interact among kids and family. Not able to make eye contact as well.
Behaviour: Showing gestures using hands and not able to sit idle. While playing with toys, not able to learn and play
Foods to Avoid
Fried food, biscuits, milk and other dairy products and sweets will increase the hyperactivity Therefore, such foods are better avoided.