A psychiatric nurse at the Tamale Central Hospital (TCH), Mr. Isaac Borlu has encouraged parents of children with autism not to lose hope but to focus on the positive. According to him, just like anyone else, children with autism spectrum disorder often respond well to positive reinforcement.
This, he says, means when you praise them for good behaviour they’re it lifts up their spirits and makes them and you feel good. He said parents should be specific so that they know exactly what they like about their kids' behaviour and find ways to reward them either with extra playtime or a small prize.
As a parent, loving your child for who they are is key, he added. Speaking in an interview with Zaa news, the psychiatrist described autism as a developmental disorder that typically appears before a child reaches the age of 3, affects the development of a child's brain, resulting in impaired social functioning, interactions with others, and communication.
He said while the causes of autism are not understood, there does seems to be certain groups of people at a greater risk for autism. He mentioned some of the suspected risk factors for autism as having an immediate family member with autism, genetic mutations, being born to older parents, and low birth weight.
Mr. Borlu further revealed that autism tends to run in families, and having one autistic child increases the risk of having another: Parents who have one autistic child have a 1 in 20 or 5 percent chance of having another child with autism.
"About 1% of adults have autism. Autism is much more common in boys than in girls, with a male: female ratio of 4:1’’ he said. He added that children with autism are not mentally retarded children, but they have developmental disorder and slow in some activities.
So, they are different from people with mental retardation. However, he cautioned that autism might occur with mental retardation. According to him, autism symptoms typically become clearly evident during early childhood, between 12 and 24 months of age. However, symptoms may also appear earlier or later.
Early symptoms he noted may include a marked delay in language or social development. He said there are no “cures” for autism, but therapies and other treatment considerations can help people feel better or alleviate their symptoms. The disorder he stressed is not a curse but advised the general public especially parents not to neglect people with the condition especially children but show them love and care.
BY:LILIAN D. WALTER