Q: I have a child who is 4.5 years old. He was very healthy when born, also upto 2 - 2.5 years. He started speaking very late after 3 1/4 years initially. Before that we consulted at Batra Hospital, in Delhi, with a speech therapist and he declared him suffering from Autism. He is very sharp, observent about what we speak in the family, the way I do my routine work, the way I sit and watch T/V, etc. He is very naughty, but very good at learning new things, He lacks concentration, he enjoys tearing things at times. He used to love his toys but recently he overplays with them and breaks them one by one. Not fully but makes them defective. He never does a thing on just one call, first few calls he deliberately ignores, suppose we tell him to come, or do that, or write in books, eat, have milk etc, he never does it instantly. He does things quickly only if its about Ice cream or chocolate. He still speaks bunch of words without any real meaning of it, just pronounces the bunch of words in his own mood. One of the paediatrician has also said that this kind of behavior is not AUTISM, He may be hyperactive, and he gave us a medicine too but that did not help much. He is tall like me but not fleshy at all. I am worried about his health and his behavioral progress. He goes away from home to the neighbours and even if they shut the door behind him, he doesnt have a sense of being insulted. Sometime even when he is beaten by his mother he cries but does not change (though we both regret if we have to beat him for something really untolerable) What is to be done for him? How he would become a normal child? How his health should improve? Would be very much glad and thankful if our son gets some changes after your valuable suggestions. This child was born through surgery to my wife as she was having high blood pressure in last days. Thanks very much, Kandarp
A:The description of your son sounds very much like Autism. Perhaps your Pediatrician may not have been right when he said that it is not autism.
However, there are many varieties of behaviour and action that go under this name. I hope that you can contact an expert in the handling of an autistic child in the place you live, to help and advise you. You must remember that the child is not deliberately disobeying you, but that his brain is wired differently. A great deal of patience will be required. Break up any activity into small bits and give him some praise or reward for achieving each step. Such children sometimes show a great talent for music or something and one may have to use that interest. Please do not beat him or punish him. It may not have the effect you wished. Expecting him to be like other children will become a frustration for the parents. Observe him closely and see how you can channel his inborn inclinations. If he is fond of his father and mother, that is a big advantage in the management of the problem. Some autistic children do not react emotionally and need more time to be made to cooperate. There are no easy solutions, but several autistic children have grown into adulthood, with reasonable vocational inclinations. If you write to the following address, they may be able to give you addresses of clinics/experts in your city or town, for children with special needs.
DIRECTOR, National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development,
Siri Institutional Area, New Delhi 110 016.