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Mental Health Care for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Defining Autism is a bit complicated. It doesn't come with a particular set of symptoms. Instead, it combines different conditions mainly involving behavioral and communication problems. However, these are not the only symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The severity varies from person to person. It can be a minor or major problem, requiring full-time medical attention and special care. According to a systematic review and multi-analysis by IMCR, it is estimated that more than 2 million people had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in 2019. Millions of people in India suffer from this disorder every year. But what exactly is ASD? Let's understand this further. In simple layman's terms, it refers to diverse conditions impacting the development of the human brain.
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Though the exact cause of ASD is yet unknown, it is found to stem from the part of the brain that leads to the interpretation of sensory input and language processing. Here are a few presumed causes of it:
Genetics - Many studies have proved that genes play a vital role in the development of this disorder. It has been found that a specific combination of genes leads to the development of this condition in the child.
Environment - Environmental factors are also said to cause this disorder. It has been found that people who become parents at an older age have a higher chance of having a child with this disorder.
It has also been found that women who were exposed to alcohol, certain drugs, smoking, and medications during their pregnancy have a higher likelihood of having autistic children.
Other causes - There are other causes like maternal metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity, untreated phenylketonuria, and rubella that are known to be one of its causes. Phenylketonuria, also known as PKU, is a metabolic condition that is caused due to the absence of a specific enzyme.
The signs of this disorder vary based on the age of the children. Hence the signs are divided into two parts:
In young children - The signs in young children include:
Not responding to their name
Avoiding eye contact
Being particularly annoyed about a certain smell, taste, or sound
Not smiling back when others smile at you
Indulging in repetitive movements, like hands flapping, fingers flicking, body rocking, etc.
Being alone and refraining from talking with other kids
Repeating the same phrases over and over
In older children - The signs in older children include:
Failing to understand others and their thoughts and feelings
Finding it hard to communicate how they feel
Having a strict daily routine and being extremely annoyed when there is a disruption in it.
Having a keen interest in specific activities
Being annoyed when asked to do something
Facing difficulty in making friends
The Different Types
This disorder is grouped under specific categories.
In this type, the children don't have language issues. In fact, their intelligence scores are mostly average or above average. But, they face issues with social skills, and their area of interest is quite limited.
This occurs mostly in children who are younger than three years. They might face issues with social interactions and communication. Along with the social skills, they might also face problems playing with other children.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
This usually occurs after the age of 2. The children suffering from it have normal development up to 2 years of their age but might lose their communication, and social skills post that.
Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD)
This category is for children with symptoms that don't fit into any other category. These include symptoms like delay in the development of social and communication skills.
How to Cope With Your Symptoms
Though there is no cure for this disorder, there are ways to help you cope with the symptoms. The effectiveness of treatment depends on when the treatment is started—the earlier the treatment starts, the better the chances of recovery. Also, there's no specific treatment for ASD. The treatment is customized based on the needs and requirements of the child. Here's how to cope with it:
Social skills training - The children who suffer from ASD might lack cognitive expression or have inapt IQ. They can fail to make eye contact and forget to smile when someone smiles at them. They can also suffer from separation anxiety. This makes it extremely important for them to have social skills training to help them learn how to engage with other people.
Cognitive therapy - Cognitive therapy improves the child's intellect and academic performance. It involves using certain small tasks, sums, activities, and applications like using an abacus to enhance their cognitive and expressive power. Though it takes a long time, it's quite effective.
Behavior therapy - Behavior therapy is done so the child learns how to respond and behave in a certain way. Applied behavior therapy helps in teaching them positive behaviors and discouraging negative behavior.
Parental therapy - Parental therapy refers to talk therapy given to parents. It involves training parents to help their children be less dependent on them. They are taught why and how they should refrain from doing so. This is done for the child's well-being and growth.
Vocational and educational training - There are special schools available for kids with ASD. The teachers are taught to behave sensitively to the unique needs of their students. Hence, a positive, healthy environment must be developed to foster these children's development. The teachers are trained to be sensitive to better cater to the child's needs. These children are also given educational training. The education of these children is limited to things that are required for their everyday living and functioning. After 16, these children are also given vocational training to identify their unique qualities. This is very important as it prepares them for the future. They are given vocational training to identify their special skills, which can be later used as a means of occupation for them.
Creative training - Many children with ASD are very creative. They excel at painting, art, music, etc. This also helps enhance their intelligence.
Speech therapy - This involves intensive therapy that helps these children enunciate the vowels, consonants, etc. They are taught how to speak properly using different techniques.
Get Treatment From a Licensed Therapist Who's Right For You
Finding the right therapist is vital when your child is dealing with ASD. You can find the list of various therapists on our website. You can easily choose from the various specialists from different domains with qualities like being a good listener, empathetic, caring, helpful, etc.
Schedule a Virtual Psychotherapy Appointment with a Counsellor Today
If your child has been suffering from the symptoms of Autism and it's not getting any better, it might be time for you to consider getting help from a trusted therapist. We at DocVita have various specialists from different fields to help you and your child manage and cope with it better. This blog wouldn't have been successful without the help of one of our psychotherapists, Miss Khusboo Wasan. The insights provided by her have made this blog more informative. So, don't wait up. Remember, the earlier you start, the better it is for you and your child. All you have to do is hop on to DocVita and book your first session online today!