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Out Of The Dark

Dispelling myths on autism

Common Myths

  • People with autism do not want friends.
  • Children with autism are not able to show imagination.
  • Autistic children are unable to build relationships.
  • People with autism do not notice others and do not pick up cues from peers/adults.
  • Repetitive or ritualistic behavior should be stopped.
  • Autism can be cured.
  • Autistic child can be a danger to society.
  • Children with autism cannot learn.
  • Autism is a mental disorder.
  • Autism is a result of cold and unemotional parenting.
  • There is an autism epidemic.
  • Individuals with autism always have hidden or exceptional talents.


Source: Life Focus Group

There are many misconceptions and falsehoods regarding autism. Unless confronted with the disease, through your child’s diagnosis, a family member’s or a friend’s, many of us fail to take the time to learn the facts on this disorder. In the battle against this disorder, it’s important that the myths be laid to rest.

Autism is a pervasive development disorder, which causes developmental problems in multiple areas. There are four disorders under the category of PDD; Asperger’s, child disintegrative disorder, Rett’s disorder and PDD, not otherwise specified. Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that typically appears within the first three years of a child’s life. Children with autism display specific developmental deficits, particularly in language and social skills.

When evaluating a child who may have autism, the main sign to look for is severely impaired social development. Autistic children typically do not seek or develop relationships, preferring to remain in their own private world. They lack interest in everyday activities and avoid eye contact and touching. Inappropriate, repetitive or aggressive behaviors can be particularly difficult for parents to deal with because others can misconstrue this as the child needing discipline. These behaviors also can be labeled as strange or frightening and can include hand flapping, rocking, head banging and other forms of self-injury. Another significant feature is the language limitation. Autistic children rarely engage in social conversation but may repeat syllables endlessly, scream or repeat only what has been said to them.

Sufferers also can have difficulty adapting to their environment as well, sometimes having unusual sensitivity or reactions to physical sensations such as temperature or smell. Children with milder forms can learn to function in society, though the disorder cannot be cured.

Tips for Parents

The first things parents need to know is that their child’s disability is not their fault. There is no evidence that there is any psychological aspect to autism and the disability is in no way the result of inadequate parenting.

Parenting an autistic child is difficult. In addition to what all parents go through, autistic children often demand more supervision and more time. Parents also must deal with the disappointment and sadness that can come with diagnosis, not to mention the emotions of friends and family.

With all of this, parents can feel guilty about taking time for them. Don’t. You need to take care of yourself in order to care for your child. Try to make time for yourself on a regular basis, such as a night out with friends or just a little to relax and meditate.

Parents of autistic children also need to network with other families in similar situations. They can help support you, providing tools and ideas that will help your child.

Treatments

There are many methods of treatment for the autistic child. Variations on behavior therapy have proved most effective in treating the behaviors that define autism. Medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and psych stimulants, can sometimes help alleviate behavioral abnormalities and improve social responsiveness. Treatment also may include animal or music and art therapy as well as physical or sensory stimulation.

Other treatment approaches include applied behavioral analysis, which aims to reward adaptive and pro-social behaviors; discrete trial training, where every task given to the child consists of a request to perform a specific action, a response from the child and a reaction from therapist; and picture exchange communication systems, which help autistic children communicate by exchanging a picture for an item or activity that they want.

Autism, like many disorders, isn’t exactly as it appears in movies or on TV. A child with a diagnosis of autism likely will always see the world a bit differently than a child without the disorder. However, it’s important to know the facts, so that parents, doctors and researchers can focus on helping the children and finding a cure.

Visit www.lifefocusgroup.net to learn more about autism.

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