Close your eyes and imagine a huge box full of crayons of different colours… from white to black, with all the different tones and textures… This is the world of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), with all its variety and differences.
Autism is a development disorder that appears from childhood. Its characteristics are: impaired social interaction, difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication and restricted and repetitive interests and activities. About 3 to 5 children out of 10,000 are autistic. Boys are affected 3 to 4 times more than girls but often autism is more severe in girls than in boys. Autism is more than a problem affecting one individual; it is a disability disorder that affects the whole family. The treatment needed for children with autism is very demanding for the family, both, emotionally and economically. Parents of children with autism are exposed to multiple challenges that have a hard impact in their most direct environment.
There is no cure for autism, but therapies and conductual interventions are designed to improve the main symptoms of autism and may allow a substantial improvement. All professionals agree on the fact that the sooner intervention takes place the better. The family counselling for parents and siblings of children with autism (as well as in school) is as important as the treatment given to the children affected by this disorder.
The fact that a child has autism, does not mean that he or she is autistic. In the same way that a person who suffers a bipolar disorder does not mean that she or he is bipolar. What I mean to say is that they are children like the rest of children. They want to smile, share and to be understood. Any child can learn. What we need to do is to find the right way to teach them. That is our job and it is every professional’s goal. We have to fight for these children to have a good quality of life with their families and all people around them, for them to be happy.
Escala Iris Director – Centre for Child development
October 5th, 2013