Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder characterised by problems with social interaction, communication and behaviour. Autism occurs along a spectrum as autism affects individuals in different ways and each person requires differing levels of support. Autism affects around 1 in 100 people and appears to affect more men than women.
- Special interests
- Repetitive body movements
- Repetitive use of objects
- Insistance for sticking to routines
- Sensorty sensitivity
- Limited understanding of non-verbal communication
- Difficulties forming and sustaining relationships
- Prefering to do activities alone
- Lack of social and emotional responsiveness
- Delayed language development
- Difficulty having conversations
- Repetitive use of language e.g. repeating phrases from television
It is likely there are multiple circumstances that can cause autism. There are varying environmental, biologic, and genetic factors that can contribute to a child developing the disorder. These theories include faulty genes, chemical imbalances, lack of oxygen at birth, mercury used in vaccinations* and pesticides.
*Although it has been theorised that vaccinations cause autism, there has been no reputable study confirming this. Also, most vaccinations do not contain thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative) anymore.
Early intervention is important in helping children with autism navigate the world with their disability. If you feel your pre-school aged child may have autism, you can make an appointment with your GP so that they can conduct a screening interview called M-CHAT. If your child is school-aged you can make an appointment with the school’s SENCO team so that they can observe and screen your child for autism. Once your child has been screened they will be referred to a range of specialists in order to recieve a dianosis. These would include a paediatrician, a speech and language therapist and a psychologist.
There is no ‘cure’ for autism. However, there are a range of interventions that can help people with autism to function in the world and have a more fulfilling life. These interventions help the individual learn social skills and communication skills. They also help them cope with sensory overload.