Autism Spectrum Disorder (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is congenital or occurs in the first 2-3 years of life. It is thought to occur as a result of mutations in some genes and researches on this are continuing.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is manifested by deficiencies or disorders in 5 basic areas. These areas are;
-Limited interests and activities
Inadequate communication skills of individuals with autism can be observed. While some individuals with autism do not communicate at all, some may be insufficient to communicate effectively. In some autistic individuals, a significant retardation can be detected in their speech. Commonly observed communication and speech features in individuals with autism are as follows:
-Echolalia (repetitive speech),
– Monotonous / monotonous tone,
– Inability to use gestures and mimics,
– Inability to understand and use abstract expressions and metaphors,
Inadequate receptive and expressive language skills.
Individuals with autism may also show retardation in their social interaction skills. The following features are commonly observed:
Difficulty reacting to one’s own name
Difficulty understanding the facial expressions of others
– Inability to make adequate eye contact
Difficulty developing joint attention
– Inability to understand the feelings and thoughts of others, their body language and facial expressions,
– Inability to play games,
-Difficulty interacting with peers.
Individuals with autism also exhibit limited interest and activity characteristics. The features they commonly display in this field are listed as follows:
-Repetitive waving, swaying, making meaningless sounds,
– Interested in rotating objects
-Adherence to routines
-Exhibiting behavioral problems when routines are disrupted.
Sensory characteristics frequently observed in individuals with autism are listed as follows:
– Hypersensitivity or unresponsiveness to certain sounds, smells or textures
Unexpected or no response to stimuli.
Cognitive characteristics of individuals with autism may also differ. Studies have shown that approximately 46% of individuals with autism have normal and higher intelligence. Commonly observed cognitive features can be listed as follows:
-Lack of imitation skills,
-Inability to process, analyze and organize information,
– Inadequacy in vocabulary,
Difficulty generalizing learned information
-Variable performance in different areas of development,
– Inadequate problem solving skills.
In some individuals with autism, unusual skills can also be observed. For example; It can be listed as being able to memorize all the phones in the directory, memorizing the flags of all countries, having high-level artistic skills.
All these features are evaluated at the diagnostic stage. An intensive training should be started as early as possible after the diagnosis is received from a Child Psychiatric Specialist (Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist). With early and intensive education intervention, the symptoms of autism can be controlled, improvement can be achieved, and significant progress is observed. In fact, it is observed that some children with autism do not have a developmental difference from their peers after the process.
In this process, parents may also need psychological support. In such an intense pace of education, parents can wear out from time to time and their quality of life may decrease. Families with an individual with autism, especially with behavioral problems, may experience inadequacy in their coping skills and may resort to ineffective methods. In order to prevent this, it is observed that the expert support received on a regular basis produces very effective results.