My top 10 on the topic of “Understanding Autism”

When searching the topic “understanding autism” – you will find information relating to autism programs, autism therapies and different approaches offered by different autism therapy centres, autism intervention programs and special need schools.  You will also find loads of information relating to the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

You can read all about therapy centres and how they view or treat autism.  Some see autism as a behavioural disorder and other centres see autism as a social interactivity disorder, where the central deficit is relating to other people.  You will read how some interventions focus on “changing behaviours and how other programs focus primarily on creating a relationship with the child.

Finding answers to questions like:  “when will my child speak?  Or “is Autism curable?” is on the forefront of every parents mind when they first receive the diagnosis of Autism (also known as ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder) so I thought I would put together my top 10 – “understanding of autism” list:

  1. Every child diagnosed with Autism is different and not all Autists battle with forming relationships with people. We see beautiful friendship forming daily for many of the children at the Amazing K Autism Pre-School in Johannesburg.
  2. Social/Emotional difficulties often come in with “rules or the game” or “understanding social etiquette” rather than making friends and being a part of a group.
  3. Many autistic children don’t play with new toys because they do not understand what they are meant to do with the item. Once you show them how it works, engage in playing session with the child – you will soon find that they will enjoy being introduced to new activities. Anxiety is also more often than not a reason why the child will not engage in new play activities – they are truly scared of failure or getting it wrong.
  4. How children with Autism play is not necessarily wrong even though you as the parent may feel it is. There is NO rule or health warning issued against “cars being lined up” – we often create unnecessary pressure for our children by wanting to change things that don’t need changing;
  5. Not all children on the Autism Spectrum have behavioural problems that require behaviour intervention also known as behaviour modification;
  6. Just because a child has Autism it does not mean that they automatically have sensory integration problems;
  7. Stimming – whilst a big part of most autistic children’s lives does not affect every person on the autism spectrum;
  8. Not all children with ASD are non-verbal and not all non-verbal children have Autism;
  9. Verbal autistic children are not guaranteed an easier learning path just because they can speak;
  10. Non-verbal autistic children can achieve incredible success even if speech does not develop – including but not limited to academic, social, emotional and physical achievement;

I think that the most profound statement made is:  “if you have met an autistic person then you have met only 1 autistic person”. They are all so different and so similar.

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Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.