Understanding Children with Autism

20 January 2015, BKK Kids

Autism is a developmental disorder. When making a diagnosis of autism in children, doctors look for problems in the following 2 main areas:

  • Social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Repetitive behaviors, no behavioral flexibility, nervous system disorder

Autism involves a variety of developmental delays. The signs may be obvious or subtle. In some cases, autism cannot be diagnosed in the first visit, and for an effective evaluation, the signs and symptoms must be monitored frequently at several locations, such as schools and nurseries. Signs of the disorder can be difficult to identify or diagnose. It requires extensive experience for doctors to be able to diagnose and treat children with autism effectively.

Upon hearing that their child has been diagnosed with autism, some parents enter a state of denial and refuse to accept the diagnosis at first. Sometimes they will even tell others that their child has just been diagnosed as a late talker by the doctor because they are afraid that their child will be rejected by the school as most people believe that autism is a very serious condition. However, due to ongoing efforts to increase autism awareness, some parents understand the signs and have their children diagnosed during the early stages of autism. Early diagnosis and accurate treatment improve the results significantly, leading to near-normal development in the long term.

Some families with autistic children do not believe that their children have any problems and they leave their children untreated. Some families become depressed and disappointed with their children. They do not have their children trained appropriately and stimulated for development. The autistic children lose the chance to have normal development and come back to be treated when they have grown up, which makes it more difficult for them to be trained appropriately and have their development stimulated. When autism is left untreated into its late stages, some parents have to quit their jobs to look after their children.

A child’s brain develops rapidly during the first five years of life. If autistic children are treated early, they will have a chance of normal development, and their oral communication skills and social interactions will be improved with no repetitive behavioral disorders. Some children with autism go on to earn a degree and work in the same way as their non-autistic peers.

By Nattawat Ngamsamut, M.D., Paediatric – Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Samitivej International Children’s Hospital – Srinakarin Campus

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