Some of you might be wondering if your child has autism disorder. But Moms and Dads, do you know what is autism disorder in children is and its symptoms? Let’s get to know autism better together.
Definition of Autism Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or what’s more commonly known as autism, is one of many developmental disorders that have affected around 1.5 million children in Indonesia. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association defined autism spectrum as a neurodevelopmental problem that has 2 major areas: social interaction and communication deficit and restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests.
You should also know that autism disorder in children occurs in people of all economic status, race, and sex. This disorder also exists since birth, not a disorder that appears after birth. However, most parents will only notice the disorder when the child is around 3 years old.
Spectrum of Autism
Autism is a disorder with a spectrum of mild to severe. It is described as a spectrum because the symptoms, abilities, and characteristics are expressed in various combinations and exist within different levels of severity. That is why every autistic child is different from each other.
In the mild spectrum, the child can still be in public settings with minimal support. They can speak using complete sentences. The child can respond accordingly in a conversation, even though he will lack the initiative to start or hold the conversation. Their speech will often feel odd and sound awkward compared to kids their age. They will also be inflexible when there is any change in the activity.
On the severe end of the spectrum, we can have a mute child, sitting in the corner, spinning the wheel of his toy car over and over again. There are instances where they will speak in meaningless sounds, repeating words, continually circling around the room, and the child have to do these things routinely every day.
Symptoms of Autism Disorder in a Child
Each autistic child will express symptoms, abilities, and characteristics in different combinations and severity. The symptoms are:
Social Interaction and Communication Deficit
- A lack of ability in understanding the social activities of others.
- A lack of social and emotional reciprocity.
- Inability to share focused attention with others. The child is constantly distracted.
- Having non-verbal behaviors (expression, eye contacts, body movements) that are unusual and awkward when interacting with others.
- Lack of interest and/or difficulty relating with other people, especially with children.
- A failure to share enjoyment and interests with others.
Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors and Interests
- Only interested in a limited kinds of activities.
- The child is restricted to a routine. The child will overreact if there is any change in the routine.
- Exhibit repetitive communication, such as echolalia (echoing question or the statement of the person he is speaking with over and over again).
- The child will overreact to certain stimuli, or will not give any response whatsoever.
- The child tends to be too focused on certain objects and will completely ignore other objects that are actually as important.
What Should Moms and Dads Do?
Don’t panic if your little one shows symptoms of autism disorder in children mentioned above. We should not be too quick to put labels on them. For all we know, our child might not fall under the spectrum. However, Moms and Dads should not delay to bring your child to a psychologist. The psychologist will be able to give appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as possible.
But remember, Moms and Dads, whatever the diagnosis may be it does not change the fact that we are called to love our children. As such, we have to be willing to educate ourselves and get our children the appropriate treatments. Most of all, it is our unconditional love and care that will enable them to be someone who is ready to face whatever the world throws at them. Stay passionate, Moms and Dads!
“What it’s like to be a parent: It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but in exchange it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love.” — Nicholas Sparks