What is this site for?
There is so much out there that you don’t know where to start. Autism South Africa has some brochures you can download and read like Autism: Practical Aspects or the Parent Brochure to get you started. Once you got your head around stuff you can contact Autism Western Cape to help point you in the right direction.
Currently, the information on this site is out of the Northern Suburbs, Western Cape, South Africa.
Autism is a different neurotype which includes differences in communication and reactions to sensory stimuli. Current statistics state that globally 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism, 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189-210 girls. In South African government hospitals, 10 new diagnoses are made every week and the Western Cape Department of Health estimate annual growth of 10-17%.
Due to recent changes to the DMS-5 (diagnostic manuals), Autism is now part of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders classification. This includes Prevasive Developmental Disorder-not otherwise specified, Heller’s Syndrome and Asperger Syndrome. However, due to continual research, Asperger Syndrome may also soon be removed from the Spectrum list and become a condition on its own. Another condition with similar traits is Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS) and Sensory Integration/ Processing Disorder. There is also a condition called PANS/PANDA cause by the Strep virus that causes similar behaviours as those normally prescribed to people on the Spectrum.
The other conditions that use to fall under the classification of Autism Spectrum Disorder was Rett Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome.
Research is ongoing and no single person or group has made definitive breakthroughs in what causes autism, what treatment is best and what therapy works best. Many believe that it could possibly be a combination of Genetics, Diathesis-Stress Theory, Environmental factors and/ or Auto-immune Dysfunction.
Areas of Influence
Autistic people are affected in 3 ways: Language, Social and Behaviour. It is also important to add areas of Senses and Health.
In my opinion, it works something like this: If your Senses (Sensory) is over stimulated it affects the why you Behave, the way you behave affects your Social interaction, and your Social interaction your Language. And lastly your Health.
Nutritional problems (see blog post on Picky eating)is a big thing among autistic people as their diets are very restricted because most of the time it is influenced by their senses and the condition of their gut.
However, not only are people on the Spectrum affected in these areas, but they can also have secondary conditions or co-morbidity like Epilepsy, Bi-Polar Mood Disorder, Schizophrenia, Dyslexia, Depression, Anxiety, Compromised Immune systems, Muscular disorders, being blind or being deaf, sleep problems, ADHD, Down Syndrome, Dyspraxia, to name but a few.
Things to look out for:
- No babbling by 11 months of age
- No simple gestures by 12 months (e.g. waving bye-bye)
- No single words by 16 months
- No 2-word phrases by 24 months (noun + verb, e.g. “baby sleeping”)
- No response when their name is called, causing concern about hearing
- Loss of any language or social skills at ANY age (i.e. regression)
- Odd or repetitive ways of moving fingers or hands
- Oversensitive to certain textures, sounds or lights
- Lack of interest in toys or plays with them in unusual ways (e.g. lining up or opening and closing parts instead of playing with the toy as a whole)
- Compulsions or rituals (has to perform activities in a special way or certain sequence; prone to tantrums if the ritual is interrupted)
- Preoccupations with unusual interests such as light switches, doors, fans, wheels
- Unusual fears (e.g. of the colour green)
- Rarely makes eye contact when interacting with people
- Does not play peek-a-boo
- Does not point to show things he/she is interested in or follow your point
- More interested in looking at objects than at people’s faces
- Prefers to play alone
- Does not make attempts to get parents’ attention
- Seems to be in “his/her own world”
- Does not respond to parents attempts to play, even if relaxed
These are general markers but there are differences between girls and boys.