Is my child autistic?
Q: My son is 4 years old. He has been diagnosed with autism by a WHO panel doctor and we got a check up done through another doctor in Jaipur - he asked for a brain scan to be done and the report says that my son is autistic. I have read a lot of text and cases of autistic children - my sons behaviour is exactly like the typical autistic children i. e. hyperactiveness, flapping hands, rocking on chair, attraction towards moving objects and a severe attention disorder with no communication at all. But I have noticed that he is a little too intelligent and smart than the other children of his age, even when he was just 2.5 years old, he used to eat nicely with a fork and a spoon, was fully potty trained etc. And even now I have tried to teach him how to write and all, but he never did anything, but to my surprise, he writes ABCD still very neatly on his black-board, he has learnt it just by copying it from his books. He used to go to school earlier (only for 6 months) but used to just play there. Now we have shifted to NCR region in Ghaziabad, where schools are very far and the close by school have denied to take him because he is not able to speak although there is no sign of mental retardation. He does not respond if we call him by name but if we want to teach him how to speak, he tries his level best and at times is able to say things correctly like fan, chair, table, pani etc. I have observed in the last one year that he can speak at least a few words, but he does not remember it when asked again - even if you teach him the same thing 5 times a day. I have noticed that he has little problem in speaking - and hope can be improved with speech therapy - but I don't understand why he is not able to recall words. My question is that is he autistic or is suffering from some kind of memory loss which can be cured or not? But all the other autistic factors have really improved and I have hope but I can't see any improvement with his memory. Please tell me is it something different than autism?
A:You seem to have a fairly clear idea of your child condition. It is good that he shows improvement in many aspects, as you have observed. Autistic children can be very bright, even gifted. However, expecting them to conform to age-related achievements is frustrating. Doctors NDTV can be accessed for a couple of articles intended for parents and teachers dealing with autistic children. I was told that the two articles by Usha Ramakrishnan of Chennai would soon be made available. See if you can access them. Consider the strengths of your child i.e. what he can do, not only what he cannot do. Play with the child and think of his development as a whole, not only his memory for specific words you have taught him Autistic children are different, not slow. Teaching your 4-year old requires patience and affection, as you will have realised. Try and enjoy the process.