Autism spectrum disorder, or autism, is considered a pervasive development disorder (PDD), a complex condition that involves delays in the development of many basic skills, particularly the capability to meet people, to interaction and to use thinking. Characteristics of autism can vary greatly between children and range from mild to severe.
Characteristics of Autism
While the characteristics of autism can usually be observed by the time the child is 18 months old, parents often do not recognize that these behaviors or developmental delays may be signs of autism until the child is around age 3. At that age, it becomes more obvious to parents that their child is not developing like other children.
Children with autism generally have trouble understanding the world around them and often have problems in the following areas:
Verbal and Non-verbal Communication – Speech can be difficult for children with autism and many experiences delayed speech development. They also may be unable to interact with others using non-verbal communication cues such as such smiling or making eye contact.
Social Interaction – Children with autism often have trouble participating in a conversation, sharing their feelings and understanding the thoughts and feelings of others.
Repetitive Behaviors and Routines – Autistic children may repeat words or actions or perform certain behaviors repetitively. They may be obsessive about their daily routine and find it difficult or upsetting to make transitions. Children with autism may have problems using imagination and often have a limited range of interests and activities. It can be difficult for them to pay attention to a group and/or one-on-one situations. Research has shown that as many as 75% of children with autism have some degree of mental retardation.
There are many sorts of activities for autistic children and these are suggested by physicians and researchers as they believe such activities will help the growth of an autistic child. From playing various types of games to taking photos, from playing musical instruments to making videos – there are all sorts of social skills activities for kids with autism.
Games for autistic children
An autistic child will find interest in a game that involves description and therefore the “I Spy” game is something that the parents should focus on playing with them. They ought to describe an object minutely and then check if the child can respond to that description by finding the object or by pointing at the object that has been described.
This will not only help the child to understand the language better but also help him or her to get what the other person is saying and thus help the child to grasp the meaning of the words and the phrases. This will certainly help the communication skill of the child and also make him or her more responsive to others.
Autistic children often find interest in sing-song games and they may find enjoyment in the repetition of a song. This is how the child can learn to sing or maybe even play a particular musical instrument.
Many autistic children are found to have great skills when it comes to arts and drawing. They often draw and paint very well and that becomes their niche. They should be encouraged to pursue their habit of drawing at all times and this can be the center of their attention. They also find interest in acting or sketching and this love is to be encouraged every now and then. Parents should make it possible for them to practice and therefore enable them to hone their skills.
Parent’s responsibility for autistic children
It can be very difficult for an autistic child to understand what he or she likes and even if he or she realizes it the child would probably be shy about letting the parent know. So it is important that the parents are observant and he or she might discover that the child has an interest in a certain type of sporting activity like fishing or golf and this is to be encouraged by the parent. The parents need to make sure that the coach of the child knows about the disability and therefore should be able to guide him or her appropriately.
The child can find interest in games that the non-autistic children engage in like football or basketball but it might be not so right for the child to get in physical games like these. So this is also a point that the parents ought to think of before encouraging the child in every way and make sure that his or her interests are channeled in the right way. These various social skills activities for kids with autism help them interact with others and be more social than they would have been otherwise.
Treatment for Autistic Children
While there is no cure for autism, there are many treatments available to help those living with the condition and their families cope with the characteristics of the disorder. The following treatments can help children with autism learn and develop:
- Physical, occupational, behavioral, life skills and speech therapies
- Educational strategies that involve parents, teachers, school psychologists and other specialists working together to plan for and assist in the child’s formal education process
- Sometime medications may essential for few symptoms
Autism is more common in boys, siblings of those with autism and in children with certain other developmental disorders.