WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism is known as a complex
Experts believe that Autism presents itself
during the first three years of a person's life.
The condition is the result of a neurological
disorder that has an effect on normal brain
function, affecting development of the
person's communication and social
People with autism have issues with nonverbal communication, a wide range of social
interactions, and activities that include an
element of play and/or banter
Autism has no single, known cause. Given
the complexity of the disease, and the fact
that symptoms and severity vary, there are
probably many causes. Both genetics and
environment may play a role.
Several genes appear to be involved in
autism. Some may make a child more
susceptible to the disorder.
Others affect brain development or the way
that brain cells communicate.
Environmental factors. Researchers are
currently exploring whether such factors as
viral infections, complications during
pregnancy and air pollutants play a role in
HOW IS AUTISM DIAGNOSED?
Presently, we don’t have a medical test that
can diagnose autism. Instead, specially
trained physicians and psychologists
administer autism-specific behavioral
Often parents are the first to notice that their
child is showing unusual behaviors such as
failing to make eye contact, not responding
to his or her name or playing with toys in
unusual, repetitive ways. For a description of
early indicators of autism, see Learn the
HOW TO TEACH AUTISTIC CHILDREN
Although each autistic child is an individual
who responds to teaching methods
differently, there are a few strategies that are
generally applied to help autistic children
succeed in educational goals.
Delineate the teaching space. This is
because autistic children often have trouble
coping with different environments or chaotic
Construct your teaching area with separate
and defined stations such as toys, crafts and
Create a predictable schedule. Many
autistic children thrive on a predictable
schedule, so giving them the security to
know what to expect each day is beneficial.
Place a clearly-visible analog clock on the
wall and tape images that represent the day's
activities and the times they occur.
Refer to this clock while mentioning the time
that activities are to take place.
Use closed captions on a television to
promote reading.The closed captions on a
television allow the child to simultaneously
associate printed words with spoken words.
If a child has a favorite television show,
record the show with the closed captions and
incorporate the show as part of the reading
Allow the children to their lesson
plans. Autistic children are just as capable of
learning as non-autistic children.
They simply need to find a strategy for proper
information absorption.Observe what objects
the children gravitate toward.
Do they need to walk to list the alphabet? Does
holding a blanket help them to read aloud?
Whatever it may be, allow the children to learn
within their own framework.
Teach autistic children social modeling. Many
autistic children have difficulties being attuned to
emotion, motivations and other social cues that are
instinctive among non-autistic children.Read stories
to show proper behavior in different situations.
For example, read a story about a child who is sad
and point out a frown or tears as examples of
sadness to help an autistic child learn how to pick up
on emotions. The child can learn by memorization.
Use fixations to facilitate the learning
process. Many autistic children fixate on
certain items and this can be used as an
advantage when teaching.
For example, if a child is fixated on cars, use
the cars to teach geography on a map by
"driving" the car to different states.
Avoid long verbal commands. This can be
confusing, as autistic children often have
trouble understanding sequences.If the child
can read, write down the instructions.
Give instructions in small steps.
TREATMENTS & THERAPIES
How is Autism Treated?
Treatment for autism is usually a very intensive,
comprehensive undertaking that involves the
child’s entire family and a team of professionals.
Some programs may take place in your home.
These may be based in your home with
professional specialists and trained therapists or
may include training for you to serve as a
therapist for your child under supervision of a
TREATMENT FOR THE CORE SYMPTOMS OF
Most families use one type of intensive intervention
that best meets the needs of their child and their
parenting style. The intensive interventions described
here require multiple hours per week of therapy, and
address behavioral, developmental, and/or
They are developed specifically to treat autism.
During the course of treatment, it may be necessary
to reevaluate which method is best for your child.
Before we get into the types of therapies available, it is
helpful to take a step back and look at the bigger
picture. Although research and experience have
revealed many of the mysteries surrounding autism, it
remains a complex disorder that impacts each child
However, many children with autism have made
remarkable breakthroughs with the right combination of
therapies and interventions. Most parents would
welcome a cure for their child, or a therapy that would
alleviate all of the symptoms and challenges that make
life difficult for them. Just as your child’s challenges
can’t be summed up in one word, they can’t be
remedied with one therapy.