Today, April 7, we celebrate World Health Day. On this occasion, our school psychologist has prepared an article about the equally important Health-related Day, which we celebrated last Friday.
April 2nd is the World Autism Awareness Day, established in 2007 by the United Nations organization. From that day also begins World Autism Awareness Month, aimed at spreading knowledge and better understanding of the society about the difficulties of people with this disorder.
According to the International Classification ICD-10 , Autism is classified as a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by impaired development beginning before the age of 3 and lasting throughout life. Abnormal development of a child manifests itself in three spheres and includes symptoms:
- some children learn speech very late or use few words
- difficulty in understanding non-verbal communication (gestures, facial expressions)
- avoiding eye contact
- repeating single words and sentences instead of answering a question
- literal reception of messages, not understanding the humour, irony, sarcasm, metaphors
- facial expressions inadequate to the message
- difficulty communicating needs
- talking about yourself in the 3rd person ("Ania wants to eat")
Relationships with people
- the child does not like to be hugged, hand-held, touched
- difficulty establishing relationships and making friends
- prefers playing alone
- difficulty understanding other people's feelings and thoughts
- impairment in pretend, symbolic play
Behavior, interests, activity
- interest in a narrow field and intensive exploration of knowledge on a given topic
- repeated repetition of the same movements (so-called movement stereotypes)
- strong attachment to routine and daily, repetitive activities
- strong attachment to some toys
- difficulty in adapting to changes
In addition to the symptoms listed above, there are also others, for example:
- Sensory disorders - excessive or insufficient response to sensory stimuli. For example, the child reacts to soft sounds as if they are too loud, or does not seem to feel pain when injured.
- Food intolerance or food selectivity - the child wants to eat only a certain group of foods, for example due to the texture, sometimes eating inedible things (e.g. toilet paper)
It is important to add that Autism is very diverse in terms of symptoms and the depth of deficits. In the literature, the term Autism Spectrum Disorder is often used, including Asperger's syndrome, which is distinguished from autism primarily by the lack of general delay in speech development and cognitive functions. Symptoms are often very subtle, so that it is difficult for parents to recognize them immediately, discrepancies are noticed, for example, when the child learns to speak.
Autism is not a disease or mental disorder, but a different style of development. Misunderstanding and stereotypical thinking about people on the autism spectrum causes a distance in society. Knowledge of the spectrum is still insufficiently widespread, making it difficult to recognize symptoms and intervene. Early diagnosis will allow the implementation of therapeutic activities that stimulate the child's development, thus help in using the natural resources of a person to develop skills, based on the critical moments of development, the overlooking of which may have serious consequences for further development.
Author: Karolina Ciesielka, psychologist.
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