Autism is nothing but a gross inability to develop normal human relationships with people around the baby including the parents. The symptoms are more apparent within the first two years of a baby’s life. There are gross differences between children on the severity of symptoms exhibited.
While some show moderate delays in language development and social interactions, others show severe symptoms. Severely autistic babies do not smile, coo or gurgle and hate to be picked up. They dislike touch and can get hysterical with any kind of contact. Babies with autism show distorted and delayed speech with vague and eccentric mannerisms like wildly flapping hands to screaming and throwing tantrums. The child is of normal intelligence but appears retarded or deaf because of his inability to engage or respond.
Autism In Babies
It’s Occurrence and Susceptibility
Autism is uncommon and occurs in 2-6 babies out of 1000. Boys are more susceptible to autism than girls are.
There is no one cause of autism. Researchers say that parental genes play a role in autism. Maternal smoking and consumption of drugs is another cause. Certain biological factors like exposure to a virus, genes and a weakened immune system may put babies at a risk for autism. The disorder creates several behavioural and developmental problems like anti-social behaviour, self-destruction, anger, aggression and reticence. There are delays in hearing and speech. Social interaction is minimal and distorted.
At present, there is no treatment for autism. Some children can be helped through counselling, social feedback and behaviour modification therapies. The child needs to be actively stimulated thorough visual cues, reinforcement and positive feedback. Special training in speech, social interaction and assertiveness may have to be given to the child. At times drug therapy becomes crucial in reducing aggression and violent episodes in children.
Early and quick intervention is probably the best approach and leads to positive and dramatic outcomes. Te families should seek active intervention through supportive services and should not delay treatment at any cost. Counselling of the family too is helpful in helping them to understand the various nuances of the disorder.
Some parents feel that their children have greatly benefited from changes in their diet like reduction of wheat and a gluten free diet. Several paediatric hospitals are now offering services for autistic care with the help of external agencies. Whatever course or modality of treatment you take up, make sure that you first consult wt your doctor and discuss the most suitable course of action for your baby.
The prognosis of autism is moderately good. It all depends on the pro-active approach taken by the parents. A lot of persistence and patience is required in the treatment of autistic children. They need continuous help and feedback for years before showing any signs of betterment. The earlier the treatment, the faster is the recovery. Although very few are completely cured, most children eventually lead near-normal lives post treatment. The prognosis improves with early intervention, counselling and therapy. Autism overall is pervasive and difficult to come to terms with for both the parents and the child.