Identify the warning signs of autism spectrum disorder and find out how therapies can help in your child’s development.

Autism: Signs and treatments

Autism is generally not diagnosed till the child is around 3 years old, but according to the Autism Recovery Network, developmental delays can be detected in babies as young as 6 months old.

The early signs

* Doesn’t imitate your expression.
* Delayed or no babbling.
* Doesn’t smile when he sees a familiar face.
• Doesn’t respond to his name.
* Doesn’t follow moving objects with his eyes.
* Doesn’t make noises to get your attention.
* Doesn’t reach out to be picked up.
* Doesn’t play with others or show interest in what people are doing.

Several therapies that are used to treat autism…

* Applied behavioural analysis
Also known as behaviour modification, this treatment method teaches the patient how to conduct himself in an appropriate manner by modifying his behavior through a system of rewards and consequence.

* Speech and language therapy
This method uses techniques such as physical strengthening, breathing training or the use of audio-visual aids to treat disorders that affect a person’s speech, language and cognition.

* Occupational therapy
Using everyday activities to help a person manage his day-to-day life.

* Sensory integration
This form of occupational therapy helps the patient use the information his senses absorb to give him a reliable picture of the world and his place in it.

Books on autism

Below are resources for more information on autism spectrum disorder:

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism, by Naoki Higashida.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's, by John Elder Robison.

The Child with Autism at Home & in the Community: Over 600 Must-Have Tips for Making Home Life and Outings Easier for Everyone, by Kathy Labosh and LaNita Miller.

Autism online

Autism Resource Centre
For comprehensive information about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and where to seek help in Singapore.

Autism Speaks
An international autism science and advocacy organisation.

An online support group for parents with children with ASD.

Pathlight School
This autism-based school offers a mainstream academic curriculum, plus teaches life skills.

Photo: iStock

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