April 2nd every year is World Autism Awareness Day.
Ever heard of autism? It is major developmental problem that usually appears in early childhood and usually affects a child’s communication and interaction with other people.
These children usually do not respond to their environment or people. They may not respond when they are called, they would resist hugging/cuddling, do not maintain eye contact and generally prefer playing alone. They may not speak properly or speak later than expected, they don’t appear to understand simple instructions and they usually have a sing-song kind of voice. They also usually perform repetitive motions like rocking, may indulge in self-harming activities like head banging and may have the craving for things like chalk or other items not considered food.
Think about how many of these children have been branded witches in our traditional African societies. Think about how many of them have been beaten blue and black by parents who feel they are not smart enough. Think about the laughter and scorn these children go through. Food for thought.
Who is at risk? Autism can affect anyone but boys are more likely to have it, families with one autistic child are likely to have another and it is also thought that perhaps children born to older parents are more at risk.
Regarding treatment, please note that there is no cure, but autistic children can live full and happy lives if this is discovered on time. The focus is on their areas of concern: communication and social interaction. Family therapy sessions focus on equipping families with the skills to take care of these children and interact with them in a way that encourages them to interact socially; educational therapies aimed at providing structured learning programs have also been successful, and usually these involve a team of specialists. Other programs aimed at addressing their communication and behavioural skills help reduce the problems associated with this area of their lives and teach them new skills.
There are no drugs for the treatment of autism but some meds are given to treat the symptoms that arise. For instance, drugs may be given if the child is too hyperactive etc.
There’s a support group for autism in different countries. In Nigeria, the Nigerian Autistic Society could be a useful resource.
Have agood night, y’all 😀