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Autism: what are the symptoms and care approaches?

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Autism: what are the symptoms and care approaches?
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According to the World Health Organisation autism is a developmental neurological illness linked to development abnormalities in the central nervous system.  Children or adults who have autism often struggle to find information and appropriate support to help them with this illness. According to the NHS, it is estimated that about 1 in every 100 people is affected by Autism (ASD) in Britain. 

Range of symptoms and disabilities

According to the French High Authority of Health (HAS), there is no link between PDD (pervasive developmental disorders, or ASD) and the MMR vaccination (measles-mumps-rubella).

Recent studies have shown that:

  • Pervasive Developmental Disorders are 4 times more common in boys,
  • The risk of autism increases among new siblings, if another sibling already has a PDD.

But disability situations are not all the same. Some suffer from illnesses or more severe symptoms than others such as:

  • sleeping troubles,
  • epilepsy,
  • anxiety, depression,
  • attention deficit, mental retardation,
  • manifestation of impaired development before the age of 3 (“limited, repetitive and stereotyped behavior” according to HAS),
  • tantrums …

Autism: what sort of care approaches are there?

Psychoanalytical approach

This controversial approach helps to improve the development and autonomy of an autistic child under the age of 4.  The psychoanalytical approach believes that autism is a linked to failed social interaction between the mother and their child.  However this theory has been refuted by many international studies.

The approach essentially consists of an observation of the parent’s behaviour while interacting with their child.  However this  approach has been challenged by many health bodies who favour the educational, behavioral and developmental approach.

Behavioural, educational and developmental approach

Behavioural programs are based on a complete analysis of the psychomotor, communicative, sensory and personal abilities of an autistic person. Once the development level is evaluated, a personalized project of multidisciplinary educational and behavioral interventions can be implemented.

Psychomotor and speech therapy sessions based on developmental and reward psychology can also be offered. These programs aim to facilitate the learning, development and social or academic integration of autistic people.

Autism is a disability: School

Social inclusion at school can be challenging for autistic children who can often become anxious in social situations.  Teachers should be observant and accepting of their behaviour in class.  For example in stressful situations with lots of noise, children with autism might cry out in rage or fury and not be able to manage their temper.  They can also make inappropriate comments without realising or they can keep themselves to themselves as they find social interacting very frightening.

Every child has the right to public education regardless of any disability. Some comprehensive schools with large class sizes and limited staff resources many struggle to find the appropriate educational care for children with severe autism. However there are schools specialised for children with severe disabilities

More needs to be done to help people with autism!

According to a recent article in The Independent The number of children with a learning disability or autism detained in institutions has more than doubled since 2015.  These children are often not given the appropriate care they deserve and are sent unnecessarily to specialised institutions. The shocking Winterbourne Veiw case  is an example of vulnerable people with learning difficulties suffering abuse at a health care centre where staff were unable to provide appropriate care. However the financial budget for health care can often impede improvements to this service.

Nevertheless there are services available which do provide excellent care for people suffering from learning difficulties.  These services give autistic people a better quality of life while exposing them to fun, social situations in secure and comfortable environments. For example many cinemas and theatres now offer autism friendly screenings of films or performances.

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