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The Basics About Autism: What Is It?

You may have seen an autistic child or adult and never knew that the person had a diagnosis.  Your ignorance about the disorder is not uncommon because most people who are not experienced with the disorder look at autistic people as those who are mentally retarded or have some learning disability.  This is not true.  Autism is a very complicated disorder that affects children typically from conception to the age of three. The disorder is neurological in nature and primarily affects the areas of the brain where communication and social interaction is developed.  To the unsuspecting person, the autistic child or adult would be considered mentally unstable or retarded.

 The unique thing about autism and the reason it is sometimes hard to detect is that the disorder affects different sufferers in different levels of complexity.  A mildly affected child may be able to communicate their wants and needs, but their communication is often stifled and they do not understand the subtitles of the English language.  Sometimes humour, irony, and other nuances of the language will present a difficult or impassible barrier to the child’s communication process.  Another autistic sufferer may have severe autism where the child or the adult cannot communicate at all.  The sad thing is that the autistic person can think about the what they want to say and how to communicate it, but the words do not come out and their silence on appears on the outside.

 Can you imagine trying to communicate with your teacher or parent and the words won’t come out?  You know the answer to the question and you know how to do the task, but the communication and the rest of your body just don’t come out.  That is why it is difficult for both teachers and parents to understand what autism is and how to deal with it.  The child cannot even communicate its wants and needs during play with other children.  A simple act of digging with a sand shovel can be an awkward movement or grunt that would be totally misunderstood by the other child.

 Autistic children act differently to normal situations than other kids.  Loud noises, a deviation from a familiar route, or a change in time schedule can set an autistic child off with sometimes violent consequences.  The acts of an autistic child could be misinterpreted as a behaviour disorder or an emotional disorder.  Simple communication is not there.  If an autistic child is hot, it has been reported that some will strip naked in public and run around.  The communication is there. They are hot.  It is cooler when I am naked. Therefore I will be naked and be cool.  Again, the communication is there, but the socially accepted communication in which we communicate is not.

 According to statistics, almost four million children will be born with autism in the next decade. The diagnoses of autistic children are becoming more refined but think about the number of children misdiagnosed in the past where there learning and life skill accommodations were not met by professionals.  Autism is a tragic disorder and many parents should be given kudos for the extra time and energy it takes to raise an autistic child. In this course, you will learn the characteristics of autism, its symptoms, treatments, and learning strategies that will help both you and your child.  Though the definition of autism is still sketchy for healthcare professionals and psychologists, you will learn more about autism and have a more definitive approach when dealing with autism as a teacher, parent, or someone who works with these special people.

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