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A child’s slow response needs special attention

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th January 2002 03:00 AM

Such children may spin their arms over and over again without getting tired

Such children may spin their arms over and over again without getting tired

By Joachim Kiguli Uganda National Institute of Special Education Autism is a perplexing mental handicap. The term autism is not very familiar except to those in the area of special education and medical personnel. It is a condition where children have bizarre characteristics. Unfortunately, autism is in most cases realised at least after two years; as autistic children seem to develop normally. Their hearing and visual ability in most cases is alright although they may have problems in verbal communication Autism can cause profound and disturbing disabilities characterised by lack of communication. Affected children may live isolated lives The area of understanding the world like making sense of the environment is reduced. Autistic children have the habit of tasting virtually everything. Characteristics of autistic children -Children may have unusual response to sound. For example not turning to the direction of the origin of sound -Difficulty understanding speech and not being aware that speech has meaning. -Failure to understand basic instructions such as sit down, get me a cup. -Difficulties talking especially the pitch and tone. The child may just mimic adults. -Mimicking others in the same pitch/tone -Poor communication and voice control. l Problems in understanding things they see. For example not turning away from bright light -A child may be attracted to minor things and spend a lot of time on them For example they may observe a glittering object in the school compound the whole day -Rotating round many times without feeling dizzy. -Ritualistic mannerisms like hatred for change -Autistic children identify their mothers through taste and /or smell -Such a child has unusual body movements and may be mistaken to have mental problems. For instance he may spin the arm over and over again without getting tired -Bursting into unnecessary loud laughter. -Dislike playing with other children and it is very easy for them to recognise that somebody tampered with their play things -They may have unnecessary fears of unimportant things. Fortunately the number of cases of autistic children is relatively very low. Studies mainly carried out in the developed world indicate that one out of 10,000 live births is likely to develop autistic related problems. Autism is more prevalent among boys than in girls. Comparisons of autism with other childhood disabilities/problems: -Normal children have varied activities, but autistic children’s activities seem to be limited and repetitive. -Some behaviour is common among normal children but among autistic children, their kind of behaviour takes longer. Causes of autism: Causes of autism may be, social, psychological or biological. Biological factors may include brain infections or tumours, diseases like rubella or some abnormal patches in the brain like tuberose sclerosis. Helping autistic children -Give them a structured environment -Minimise changes in the daily activities -Be strict with routine -The curriculum should be designed to suit children’s abilities and disabilities.

A child’s slow response needs special attention

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