Children with autism

In this section we discuss the various issues facing parents of children with an autistic spectrum disorder. Parents experience a range of emotions on learning that their child has autism which range from denial, anger, frustration through to guilt and blame.

They often feel that they could have done something to prevent this or are worried about how they will cope with their child’s condition. Other parents worry about how their child will be treated in a society which is, unfortunately, not always tolerant of the disabled.

Plus they are concerned about the future: how will their child manage especially when they reach adulthood or when they as parents are no longer around.

The good news is that there is help and support available to parents of autistic children. This includes community care services, ’interventions’ (behavioural therapies), and counselling and support groups.

These ways of managing autism are discussed further in our treatment for autism section.

Issues related to childhood autism

But what are the main issues facing the parents of an autistic child?

These include:

Each of these issues is discussed in more detail in a separate section.

The main problems are those of interaction with other children and adults, using their imagination (this excludes creative imagination) and communicating with other people.

Many autistic children are highly intelligent but find it difficult to make friends and socially engage with others. They often have a single area of focus such as a particular hobby which they are obsessed about to the exclusion of anything else.

Plus autistic children often suffer from what is known as ’sensory hypersensitivity’which means that they are highly sensitive to different forms of sensory input such as sound and touch. This triggers a strong reaction, e.g. panic attack or emotional outburst which is their only way of showing their distress when faced with this assault on their senses.

They are overwhelmed by different sensory inputs in a particular environment, for example, a shopping centre.

Children who are classed as having high functioning autism or who have Asperger’s Syndrome are usually above normal intelligence and have an area of expertise. But there are other children who have a severe form of autism such as Rett’s Syndrome or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder which causes severe learning and behavioural difficulties.

The defining issue with autism is a difficulty in understanding or making sense of the world which affects behaviour and social skills in general.

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