Autism is a innate incapacity – or loss of ability during the first 30 months of life – of the development of normal human relationships, even with close relatives such as parents.
In many symptoms, autism resembles schizophrenia. The cause of this disorder is unknown, though some believe that there may be a connection between childhood autism and emotional disorders of the whole family.
The symptom of autism occur suddenly – if they are not present since birth – sometimes in just a few days. Though they differ significantly, the symptoms are characterized by some general features. At infant age, an autistic child will have difficulty with feeding and using toilet.
A child with autism will not smile or will stop smiling when he or she recognizes the parent and will noticeably avoid looking at other people in the eye. It will be more apparent that such children live in their own world. Speech, expression and other forms of communication are absent or unmistakable. In some cases, the child speaks a few words, but without reason repeats it repeatedly. The autistic child does not recognise people, other living beings and things, and treats them all equally. Such a child can not evaluate the situation and does not react appropriately to it. For example, he can become angry if you bring him into a new but harmless environment, but is not afraid to run on a very busy road.
Since he does not communicate, autistic child remains isolated from other family members. It can be unforeseeable violently at one point, and then sit calmly for hours in a strange position. An autistic child can take unusual positions on the body and adopt an unusual way of behaving.
Approximately one in three thousand children is autistic, and it seems that this disorder affects boys five times more than girls. The disease is not hereditary, and there are no known factors of predisposition.
There is always a danger that the autistic child will be injured (if no one takes care of him) because he can not recognise dangerous situations.
What to do?
If you think your child has always been shy or non-communicative for no apparent reason (or if this happened suddenly, in the last few days), take it to a doctor. If the doctor suspects that the child is autistic or mentally below the normal limit, he will refer you and your child to a psychiatrist.
As soon as a diagnosis of autism is set, a detailed discussion with specialists is usually arranged. If autism is caused by stress and tension in your family, your doctor will most likely recommend home childcare. As you pay more attention, care and encouragement to your child, chances for improving the situation are better. A psychiatrist will also help you, and you can also contact the Social Work Center in your municipality. There are several specialized centers where the people will help autistic child to establish contact with the environment and society.
Some autistic children recover enough after several years and grow up as relatively normal members of society. For others, unfortunately, life-long special care is required.