What is autism? How do you recognize an autistic child and is the treatment satisfactory with present day therapy? Autism has been described as an inability of children to relate in the ordinary way to people and situations, and an anxiously obsessive desire for the maintenance of sameness.
The children affected fail to use language for communication, some having no language at all, others using language abnormally. They can be differentiated from mental defectives in their potentialities and skill in some areas of functioning.
Autistic children display certain behavioral patterns such as refusing to look at people normally, in the eyes. They are aloof and find difficulty in communicating with others, they also have speech difficulties as stated above, the main characteristic being repetition of what is heard. They may not respond to speech and appear to be deaf.
The child is obsessive and may throw a rage when his obsessive traits are interfered with.
The illness may be mild, the child showing no more than eccentric behavior in later life, or severe, in which case the child is incapable of social adaptation. The illness usually appears before the age of three. There is no particular treatment.
However, good results have been produced when the child has consistent teaching by a patient and enlightened adult. Tranquilizers have been used to control panic attacks and obsessive behavior. It is also important that long-term support is given to the parents in understanding and caring for their child.