Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 20th 2014 Contents | SUPPORT |
By Dr Indra Kumar Mahabir
AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD)
and autism are both general terms for a
group of complex disorders of brain devel-
opment. These disorders are characterized,
in varying degrees, by difficulties in social
interaction, verbal and nonverbal commu-
nication and repetitive behaviours. (autism-
What are the signs of Autism?
First, learn what a child should be doing in
terms of development at ages three
months, six months, nine months, one year,
and every three months for at least the
first few years. Tracking your child's
progress using the Developmental Mile-
stones Chart for children, from birth to
three years of age can help you determine
whether or not your child may have autism
or be on the Autism Spectrum Disorder
(ASD). Your local health clinic may have
this chart or it can be found online.
Autism is a developmental disability re-
lated to a disorder in the brain and can be
detected as early as six months through
three years of age. Autism limits a child's
ability to develop socially (enjoying time
with others), it may cause lack of speech,
and individuals with autism may exhibit
strange behaviours or noises while repeat-
ing actions over and over. While there is no
cure yet for autism, research shows that
early interventions greatly help to improve
the quality of lives, especially at a young
age before the brain is fully developed at
age five years.
What to look for:
Six to nine months old, if your child:
1. Does not look at you when called (no eye
2. Does not make any baby babbling or gur-
3. Does not share smiles or facial expres-
Don't be alarmed. Babies need some prac-
tice making sounds. By hearing, watching
and copying adults (and older sisters or
brothers) around them, babies start bab-
bling. Use a high pitch voice to emphasize
the MEE in MuMMY, DEE in DaDDY, BEE
in BaBY, DoGGY etc. Sing nursery rhymes
and play with your child, always seeking a
"look", a smile, or any appropriate facial ex-
pressions you might expect.
If your child was developing normally,
meeting all the developmental milestones
for his age, and around 16+ months shows
signs of the following:
1. Stops looking at you when called, ap-
2. Stops speaking when speech was pres-
3. Stops enjoying time spent with you and
4. Seems lost in his own world, thus losing
skills child previously.
These may be signs of autism.
Individuals with ASD may look no different
than you and me, but they may communi-
cate, behave, and interact in ways that may
set them apart from individuals without
autism. The manner in which some may
problem-solve, learn and think can range
from the gifted to the severely challenged.
Some may need a great deal of help in their
daily lives (brushing teeth, dressing, toilet-
ing), while others may need less.
What should you do if you think your
child is showing signs of autism?
1. For children 16+ months, answer the 23
questions of the MCHAT (Modified
Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) avail-
able free online.
2. Visit the Autism Speaks website, as it
is the largest organisation conducting
research on autism: www.autisms-
3. In Trinidad, contact the Autistic Society
of Trinidad & Tobago, (ASTT):
4. In Tobago, contact Autism Tobago,
Your societies also have support groups for
you to meet and talk with other parents
about autism. They can also provide infor-
mation on local professionals who are able
to conduct an assessment and diagnose
your child for ASD. However, only a few
exist in the islands, forcing residents who
can afford to do so, to take their children to
the US or Canada for a more immediate
5. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com to join a blog to
help parents and caregivers share their sto-
ries and seek answers on early interven-
tions for their young ones.
Dr Indra Kumar Mahabir is an educator
and founder of www.darylautism.org.
The organisation offers autism educa-
tion and early intervention workshops
globally, to families in need, and is cur-
rently serving Autism Tobago.
Links Archive April 19th 2014 April 21st 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page