Concerned about your child?
Have you been concerned that your child does not seem to be behaving as other children
of his or her age? While it is important to remember that all babies develop differently,
it is helpful to have a health care professional see your child if you have
concerns. Contact Dr. Brigitte Schüling, pediatrician at the Child Development
and Guidance Centre, to arrange for an assessment. Please use our
Some children who donít develop in the usual way may be autistic. In an article
posted on the website of the National Autistic Society (Surrey Branch)
www.mugsy.org, "Early detection of handicapping conditions; Autism: Recognising
the Signs in Young Children," Jennifer Humphries explains that early diagnosis
of autism is important if children are to achieve their full potential.
According to a study cited by Ms. Humphries, "it is possible to recognise autism
in infancy. The symptoms most commonly reported in a study of 28 children were
peculiarities of gaze, hearing and play." She explains these symptoms as
Avoidance of eye contact is often thought to be a characteristic of children
with autism. This feature is less important than the unusual quality of the
gaze. Many infants do not appear to see people and so may not look people in the
eye, but in the baby with autism the gaze tends to be brief and out of the
corner of the eye.
Peculiarities of hearing seem to be especially significant. Many children with
autism have been suspected of being deaf at an early stage in their lives. Very
few actually have a hearing loss, though they may not respond to their name and
appear to be unaffected by audible changes in the environment. Children with
autism may seem to ignore even very loud noises that would be expected to
startle most ordinary children.
This may be to do with a generalised lack of interest in their surroundings. It
may be due to abnormalities in perception, since children with autism can appear
to be especially sensitive to certain sounds. For example, a child with autism
may develop a fascination for particular sounds such as that made by a
friction-driven toy, or respond to the sound of a sweet being unwrapped from a
considerable distance. Other sounds may appear to cause extreme distress, such
as a police siren or a barking dog.
Social development and play
In young babies, play and social activity are closely connected and it is in
this sphere of development that parents may note that their child is odd. Babies
with autism may show a lack of interest in the types of play that most infants
enjoy, such as those which involve social interaction with the parent.
Ten commandments for parents of special needs children
||Take one day at a time, and take that day positively. You don't have control over the future, but you do have control over today.
||Never underestimate your child's potential. Allow him, encourage him, expect him to develop to the best of his abilities.
||Find and allow positive mentors: parents and professionals who can share with you their experience, advice, and support.
||Provide and be involved with the most appropriate educational and learning environments for your child from infancy on.
||Keep in mind the feelings and needs of your spouse and your other children. Remind them that this child does not get more of your love just because he gets more of your time.
||Answer only to your conscience: then you'll be able to answer to your child. You need not justify your actions to your friends or the public.
||Be honest with your feelings. You can't be a super-parent 24 hours a day. Allow yourself jealousy, anger, pity, frustration, and depression in small amounts whenever necessary.
||Be kind to yourself. Don't focus continually on what needs to be done. Remember to look at what you have accomplished.
||Stop and smell the roses. Take advantage of the fact that you have gained a special appreciation for the little miracles in life that others take for granted.
||Keep and use a sense of humor. Cracking up with laughter can keep you from cracking up from stress.