It is a pervasive developmental disorder that occurs before the age of 3, manifested by impairment in mutual social relations and communication skills, repetitive behaviors, and inadequacies in interests and activities.

Characteristics of Autistic Children:

* Disruption in social relationship:

The deterioration in social relations is continuous and evident. There are great differences in non-verbal behaviors such as eye contact, facial expression, body position, hand-arm movements compared to other children. These children avoid making eye contact, their gaze seems to be piercing through. Autistic children may not want to be hugged. They may pretend not to hear when they are called. They fail to establish appropriate relationships with their peers. They have little or no interest in their peers.

They often show no interest in toys; This is not intended to use the toy for its intended purpose, even if they show interest in it. For example, instead of dragging the toy car on the ground, they can turn it over and spin its wheels. They are more interested in household items, especially kitchen utensils and detergent boxes. Mutual playing behavior is not observed in autistic children with advanced game playing skills. They lie on the ground and drive the car back and forth for hours, but they cannot show the behavior of playing with cars. They do not show behaviors to share their interests, such as showing or bringing their toy or object of interest to others.

They are often unaware of the existence of others. They seem unaware of others’ feelings about them and the impact their own behavior has on others. They have difficulty responding to the feelings of others, being aware of their needs and difficulties, and understanding. Some autistic children are overly dependent on their mothers and cannot tolerate separation. The inability to imitate also makes it difficult for them to give appropriate responses (such as waving, responding when smiling) in appropriate situations.

* Language development and impaired communication:

Inadequacies in communication affect both verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Speech is either absent or delayed. This is the most common problem. Some autistic children are quiet and seem to understand very little of what is being said to them. Sometimes it can be seen that they use a single word or phrase but do not repeat it again.

Most autistic children learn to speak, albeit late. In autistic children whose speech is developed, language is not sufficient to maintain mutual conversation and is used to indicate simple needs; In addition, it can be seen that there are pronunciation difficulties, grammatical disorders, differences in the speed of speech, intonation, rhythm and emphasis.

Some have a speech structure that repeats what has been said to them. These children are also unsuccessful in communicating nonverbally. Instead of showing something, they try to get what they want by holding the hands of their mothers or the people who care for them. Impairment in understanding language occurs with the inability to understand jokes and questions.

* Limitations and repetitive behaviors in interests and activities:

One of the problems seen in children with autism is limited interests and activities and repetitive behaviors. When children with autism are excited, flapping their wings like a bird, rocking back and forth while standing or sitting, turning around, turning objects such as car wheels, pot lids, dishes, sorting things, squeezing oneself, making a sound by hitting something constantly, watching the washing machine in operation, They constantly make movements such as jumping.

In some children, behaviors such as listening to the same song, singing the same song, rhyme or advertising are observed. They insist on sameness and resist change. They may exhibit behaviors such as restlessness, crying and irritability in the face of changes in the place they live in or in their daily schedules, such as moving things in the house, a long-term visitor coming to the house, going a different way to a familiar place.

* Behavioral characteristics:

Behaving indifferent towards people, not reacting to separation from parents, being restless in closed and crowded environments, not being aware of danger, laughing and crying for no reason, being afraid of furry toys, not being able to handle materials such as finger paint, play dough, crying, shouting, throwing oneself to the ground. They show different behaviors such as tantrums, throwing things, breaking things, biting their hand, hitting their head on the ground or the wall, harming the environment and themselves, rocking back and forth, turning around, moving their fingers, hitting their body with their hands. It is thought that these behaviors occur due to inadequacy in communication;

It is accepted that these problems will decrease with the increase in communication and the development of speech.

* Reactions to sensory stimuli:

Although autistic children are generally unresponsive to their own names and sounds, it is seen that they overreact to some sounds, for example, they are disturbed by loud and monotonous sounds such as the sound of a vacuum cleaner. The fact that they do not react at all to some sounds makes parents think that they may have a hearing problem.

As a result of the hearing tests, it is seen that these children do not have a hearing problem organically and do not react because they are not very open to the stimuli around them. Although they do not look at many objects, they can look at rotating, moving, bright objects for a long time. They may react to physical contact, such as being touched or hugged.

* Engine development features:

They mostly show an age-appropriate development in skills such as walking, running and jumping, in which all body muscles are used; however, they have difficulties in activities that require finger skills such as cutting, tearing, holding a pencil, and some autistic children are particularly resistant to holding pencils; it is seen that most of them do not choose their hands, they use both hands for many years.

Cause of Autism

One of the most important issues that families wonder about is what causes autism. Many families think that their children are autistic because they cannot take care of them adequately. In the 1940s, when autism was first defined, it was a widely accepted view that autism developed due to mothers’ inability to establish adequate relationships with their children. However, studies have shown that this view is not valid; The opinion that it is caused by the physiological deterioration of one or more functions in the brain system and that there is an excess or deficiency in the chemical transmitters that carry messages between the brain cells has gained weight.

Some studies reveal that autism is mostly due to genetic causes. Depending on these genetic causes, it is thought that the chemical balance is disturbed in some structures in the brain. There is evidence that multiple genes are involved in autism.

How Often Is It Occurred?

Studies have shown that it has a frequency of 5 to 15 per 10,000 births, and boys are affected 4 times more than girls.

At What Age Is It Understandable?

Although it cannot be fully diagnosed before the age of 3, some differences from birth may suggest the possibility of autism. The earliest symptoms appear in the area of ​​imitation. They may not imitate behaviors such as waving, returning a smile. They may show features such as insufficient or no eye contact, not using different cries to express their needs, reacting to hugs, not reaching for objects, not showing interest to the person looking at them, not pointing to express their wishes.

How Can You Tell If Your Child Is Autistic?

* He does not play with toys in accordance with his purpose, has difficulty in playing with each other.

* Has difficulty understanding and following simple instructions such as “Come, sit, give”.

* Does not look when called.

* When he wants something, he takes you there, trying to get it by using your hand.

* He pretends not to hear when something is said, but comes running from the back room when there is a music or commercial he likes.

* Does not make an effort to repeat movements and words.

* He cannot express expressions such as excitement, happiness, sadness, and is not interested in the expression of emotions of the other person.

* Does not make eye contact or dries briefly.

* Unable to pay attention to a certain thing.

* He does not speak despite his age.

* Shows behaviors such as turning, swinging, making different movements with his hands.

* Reacts to changes.

It is important to consult a child neurologist or child psychiatrist if the above symptoms are observed.

The Importance of Early Diagnosis

Early diagnosis is important in terms of starting special education work as soon as possible. As a result of research, it is stated that autistic children cannot develop a learning technique on their own like normal children, therefore it is important to seek professional help without wasting time. It is emphasized that education started at an early age is especially important for language development and the advancement of social skills.

Importance of Education in Treatment           

Since autism is not known exactly what causes it, it is thought that it is not a completely treatable condition. However, it may be possible to maximize the child’s potential with an appropriate education program and drug administration, which is thought to support education in some cases. The severity of the problem, the intensity of the symptoms, and the existing capacity of the child are important factors in benefiting from education.

The main purpose of education is to provide the child with skills that will enable him to be ready to learn. These are basic skills such as making eye contact, sitting properly and following simple instructions.

Gaining self-care skills such as dressing-undressing, nutrition, cleaning, toilet training in order to enable them to meet their own needs later on, and social skills such as attention, imitation, listening, recognition, understanding, responding appropriately to appropriate situations, playing games in order to improve communication skills. aimed at gaining.

How should the participation of the family be in the educational process?

Parents’ involvement in the education program, support of the work done at home, and family-expert cooperation affect the success in education positively. In many studies, it has been found that the success level of children increases when families participate in the education program.

Being at the same eye level with the child and trying to communicate with him while he is like this, making eye contact, making him get what he wants by showing or saying his name, using short and simple sentences while talking to him are the activities that families can do in the process of preparing the child for education.

Can they go to school? What could be the problem?

Whether the autistic child can receive a normal education or not depends on the criteria of the child’s capacity, diagnosis and starting education at an early age, regular and continuous professional support, participation of the family in the education process and cooperation. It is seen that many autistic children can benefit from normal education, albeit with support from time to time, if the stated situations occur. It is thought that it is more beneficial for children with slow development and intense symptoms to receive education in special education schools with programs suitable for them.

Some learning problems can be seen in autistic children due to insufficient attention. They can learn more easily with concrete examples and visually. In addition, they may show behavioral problems such as disrupting the order of the lesson and giving inappropriate reactions.

What to Expect in Adult Life           

In very mild forms of autism, autistic people who follow a completely normal development and life line have problems in understanding implication, metaphor and humor in interpersonal relationships in their adult lives. Some can live in a home on their own with little support. Few live completely independently. Few marry and form families.

Due to the continuing inadequacy in taking initiative and decision-making processes, they may work in jobs that do not require these skills, where the job to be done is specific and simple, such as gardening, packing work, entering computer data.

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