The term “autism” (from the Greek “autos” – itself) was first introduced by the famous swiss psychiatrist J. Bliejchier in 1920. He understood autism as being cut off from the world, going into oneself.
Childhood autism is a special kind of mental disorder. Due to the clinical diversity of manifestations of this distortion, the term “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD) has arisen, which unites all variants of autism disorders and means a group of children in need of specialized assistance.
The frequency of occurrence of child autism is, according to modern data, 40–45 cases per 10 thousand newborns and at least 60–70 per 10 thousand newborns for ASD. In recent decades, the incidence of ASD has been increasing.
Today, autism can probably be called one of the “weirdest” mental disorders in childhood. And not only because such children are often called “strange”, but also because it is still unknown what is the cause of its occurrence and what exactly is disordered in such a child. There are different theories, but none of them can fully explain the nature of this disorder.
In order to understand what is happening with such a child – imagine that everything that you feel has increased or decreased a hundredfold. Light touches can cause you pain or, conversely, a strong blow can pass unnoticed. The bright thing, the previously familiar sounds will become frightening, and the interlocutor’s speech will turn into just a melody. Of course, an adult could somehow adapt even to such difficulties, but an autistic child has been experiencing them since birth. It is difficult to imagine this, but it can be understood that in this case the world of people and the world of things are perceived by them differently. But how "differently" it can be, we can only guess and assume ...
Along with this special sensitivity, these children have a limited amount of energy. This is shown, on the one hand, in limiting activity (playing, speaking, communicative), and on the other, in the need to constantly stimulate oneself. Certain forms of behavior are principal — various stereotypes (repetitive actions: shaking, twisting, motor restlessness, etc.), which are aimed just at removing excess stress and stimulating oneself.
It is the distortion of mental development in children with autism that leads to the formation of a protective mechanism that “fences off” such a child from the effects of the external world and thus makes it difficult to contact with him, distorting all his development.
Such children have marked difficulties in interacting with other people and with the outside world as a whole. They have broken emotional ties with even the closest people.
Some children with autism may not use the speech at all, while others give out extended adult monologues, citing phrases from books and cartoons. In both cases, their speech practically does not act as a means of communication. As for their intellectual abilities, the picture is the same as with speech – from partial talent to mental retardation, which is caused by a deep immersion in oneself, explicit escaping from any contact and complete restriction of oneself from natural learning experience. A child with autism can solve complex math problems and be unable to go to the store or tie shoelaces.
The game, if you can call it that, is very peculiar. It consists in manipulating some, often non-game objects: water transfusion, admiring glare, laying out sticks in rows. At the same time attempts to intervene, change or stop the game cause a strong affect.
If such a child could somehow merge into this world, then he will protect his way of life. Not because he is stubborn, but because any, even minor changes are like a nightmare. At the same time, not every child with autism will express their emotions vividly and explosively. The reaction may be invisible and set aside in time – stopped eating, talking, or the temperature rose.
Such a child is characterised by extreme unusualness, often pretentiousness in behavior, habits, which is not at all associated with poor education or a bad temper often attributed to them by others.
A child with autism develops differently from birth, his development is distorted, so attentive parents already notice characteristics in infancy. Although more often parents sound an alarm by two or three years, when speech is unusual or never appeared, and behavior problems have exhausted and attenuated the whole family.
Help for children with autism spectrum disorder
Currently, there is no scientifically proven information about the main cause of autism, so there is no “healing” treatment in medicine or a “miraculous” method in special pedagogy and psychology, which could “cure” a child, save him from influencing the course of its development of this cause. However, it is known that autism itself, like many other manifestations, is secondary, and therefore, if we provide well-thought-out specialized assistance in time, based on the collaboration of the family with specialists who have modern knowledge of autism, it is possible to achieve significant positive results, because secondary manifestations are less stable, and therefore more amenable to correction.
Correctional work of children with autism must necessarily be comprehensive, individually taken medication, psychological, speech therapy, as a rule, does not lead to lasting positive changes. For each autistic child, an individual approach is needed to select both pharmacological drugs and basic psychological and pedagogical strategies.
On the basis of the health institution "City Clinical Children's Psychiatric Dispensary" is provided specialized assistance to children with autism spectrum disorders. Dispensary observation is carried out, diagnostic and therapeutic measures are carried out, social issues are resolved. An important factor in the treatment and rehabilitation process is the degree of parental involvement and the effectiveness of the interaction of specialists with the child’s closest environment (family members). Family counseling is an integral part in assisting such children.
Modern approaches to the rehabilitation stage of children with autism spectrum disorder require closer interaction and continuity in the work of the structures of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, the Ministry of Health and public organizations.