Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.
Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months.
Some facts about autism
– The Indian Scale Assessment of Autism estimates that there are approximately 1.7-2 million children with autistic spectrum disorder in India.
– Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
– Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
– Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.
Awareness about autistic children amongst the students of today
Mr Nitin Bindlish, CEO, Mom’s Belief – a first-of-its-kind, guided therapy program for the parents of special needs children, to play a more active role in their child’s therapy- shares his insights into what today’s “normal” children need to understand about autistic children-
– First and foremost, a regular kid needs to understand that they need to be patient with the autistic child.What you hear and understand as a normal child is different in an autistic child.
– These children are very emotional and mood driven. They might have a certain time and frame. As someone trying to help the special needs child, you need to have a calm and peaceful mind during the time that you spend with the autistic child.
– Never compare your understanding ability with the autistic child as they may take time to grasp what is being taught in the class. And instead of competing, you should be supportive and make it happen together.
What can you do in the school to make special needs children participate in functions/competitions:
1- Spread awareness: Have awareness camps. Make people understand about autism. Spread info and knowledge about autism- what are the different types, how a child goes through it, whether it is contagious or is it by birth etc.
2- Have on stage activities: Identify and tap autistic talent. They are good painters, programmers. Special education teachers should tell the normal child about the special skill-sets that these kids have and organise such activities or functions for them.
3- Volunteer with them: 90% schools have special education departments where therapy or help is given one on one. There is limited capacity for the school to take care of the child. Be a part of the special ed dept and volunteer to do one hour per week with the autistic children. Work particularly with one child on an hourly basis and help them learn, unlearn, understand talk to them etc.