What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder refers to complex conditions affecting regular nonverbal communication, speech, and social interactions among children. The health conditions also trigger repetitive and restricted behaviours among the affected individuals (Copeland, 2018). However, the disorder’s severity, symptoms, and effects are unique for each patient. In Kenya, autism affects nearly 4% of the total population (Ndegwa, 2019). This prevalence has instigated the establishment of specific nonprofits such as READY AIDERS FOUNDATION, the Autism Society of Kenya, STEP UP 4 AUTISM, DTSK, KAA, ANDY SPEAKS among others to advocate for parents and children’s needs, offer services and provide support.

Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autistic children posit a wide range of characteristics and abilities. Although the conditions are dynamic, individuals diagnosed with autism hardly depict similar behaviours. One of the primary characteristics of autism is communication and social interaction problems. In this case, the person barely develops fruitful relationships with others and faces challenges while responding to verbal signals such as facial expressions and eye contact (Copeland, 2018). Another autism-based characteristic includes repetitive and restricted behaviour patterns. Children exhibit distinctive attributes such as:

  • Toe-walking
  • Hand-flapping
  • Fascination with movement, light, and loud noise.

Such conducts are unusual and dissimilar from those displayed by neurotypical (those without) autism children in the same age group.

 

Autistic Child learning

Diagnosis and Risk Factors

Autism’s severity among persons relates to the combination of either mild or severe symptoms. Early diagnosis and interventions are crucial in mitigating autism’s effects and improving persons’ lifestyles. Providers diagnose autistic disorders by observing and comparing a child’s actions and communication attributes with those posited by neurotypical children of the same age group. Professionals also obtain diagnostic information through conversations with clients, caregivers, and parents (Copeland, 2018). Environmental and genetic aspects are the primary risk factors for autism spectrum disorder. There is no known cause for autism and the listed reasons in many articles and sites are just pointers to what people from different points of view think might have caused autism. Vaccination and bad parenting do not trigger autism in children as many have spread the myths owing to misinformation and disproven research.

Intervention Tips

Medical tests for autism do not exist. Instead, parents can only adopt various therapies to control and accommodate the mild or severe symptoms and reactions depicted by autistic children. For example, parents should seek professional assistance concerning specific communication and behavioural conditions revealed by children. Still, they should establish positive relationships with other parents providing care to autistic family members. Parents should also spend ample time with their families and conduct more research on autism-based symptoms and control techniques. The leading therapies that have been proven to work are occupational therapy, speech therapy and behaviour therapy. The younger the child the higher the chances that the intervention will have a quick effect on them and they will retain what they learn as they grow up. This means that the time to begin intervention was yesterday.