Who can forget the 1988 movie Rain Man which starred Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise? This fictional film highlighted an adult on the autism spectrum, who had an uncanny knowledge of numbers and math. Perhaps not as well known, but in some ways more revealing, was the 2003 fictional novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, the heart felt first person account of a mathematically gifted teenage boy on the spectrum.
Since Rain Man’s debut the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (asd) increased 25-fold. The latest statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that as of 2014, 1 child in 68 (1 boy in 42) is now diagnosed with autism.
Yet, along with that dramatic increase many great and dedicated people have developed new innovative treatments.
While Rain Man was entertaining and Haddon’s book insightful, they presented a limited, singular, and somewhat fictionalized view of asd.
Speaking of separating fact from fiction, the following are possible signs of autism.
- Avoids eye contact
- Prefers to be alone
- Difficulties understanding other people’s feelings
- Delayed language development
- Repeats words or phrases over and over
- Resistant to even minor changes in routine or surroundings
- Highly restricted interests
- Repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning
- Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
Autism Speaks provides a comprehensive definition:
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types….
If your child exhibits some of those signs, whether or not there is an “official” autism diagnosis, what should you do?
Seek a professional, usually beginning with your child’s pediatrician.
If at some point you are considering treatment or have been referred out, we recommend finding professionals that first determine and explain the root causes of the behaviors and then apply the leading therapies in a caring, nurturing environment.
Whomever you choose, ask the therapists good challenging questions. You require and deserve good answers. After all, there is nothing more important than your child’s well being.
Finally, consider your crucial role in treatment: Begin with love and understanding and the determination to help your child reach his or her full potential. Keep in mind that in the last few decades we’ve learned vast new information in human developmental neurophysiology and that knowledge continues to grow and refine and most importantly be applied successfully.
If you’d like a free consultation concerning any of the above click here.