Challenging behaviour & autism: 3-18 years | Raising Children Network
If your child is displaying some unusual behavior patterns you may be wondering is my child autistic? Autism is a life-long developmental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to interact with their world as others do. Having an autistic toddler can be a major challenge for any parent, but don’t despair, as there are many things you can do to help your child in this age of autism.

If you’ve recently been handed this diagnosis, chances are that you are trying to educate yourself more on the subject so that you can help yourself or your loved one deal with this condition and live as normal a life as possible. Most people only have a vague idea of what this diagnosis means so I compliment you on seeking out more information so that you will be best prepared to handle the challenges it brings.

Some of the challenges that people with autism experience are as follows; This includes behaviors of someone with autism.

1. Difficulties making friends
2. Issues when interacting socially (cannot understand that others react differently and feel differently from the way they do)
3. Limited interests
4. Extreme desire for routine in their life & are distressed when these routines are upset.
5. Likes repetition and exhibits repetitive behavior
6. Aggression towards others and sometimes self aggression also
7. Difficulty with verbal communication as well (unable to start or continue a conversation)
8. Short attention span
9. Hypersensitivity (or diminished sensitivity) in their senses such as sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell
10. Lack of empathy for others
11. Avoids eye contact and smiling at others
12. Prefers to be alone
13. Shows little pretend play skills as most children do
14. Tend to have severe tantrums

There are other symptoms as well but these cover the main ones and adequately describe the behavior of an autistic person.

Autism is considered to be a spectrum disorder because it covers a range of psychological conditions and affects each person differently. This can make things difficult for a parent of an autistic toddler trying to figure out what is the best treatment for their child as the signs and symptoms can vary amongst children with autism. One of the hardest things is trying to communicate with your autistic child as they seem to be living in their own world most of the time.

Estimates today are that 1 in every 500 children has been impacted by autism. While anyone can get autism it appears that boys are more prone to getting it at a ratio of 4 to 1 meaning that boys are four times as likely to be autistic than girls.

With this condition, at this time, there is no cure so the focus is mainly on treating the symptoms and helping the patient to live as normal a life as possible.

Routine developmental screening done at the child’s pediatrician visits can pick up on these issues. You, as the parent, can provide significant help to your pediatrician by opening up about your child’s symptoms that are concerning you.

In the case where your pediatrician has some concerns there are tests that are usually done such as an audiological evaluation, a blood lead test, and a screening test for autism such as the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) or the Autism Screening Questionnaire.

The other pervasive developmental disorders include Aspergers Syndrome. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett Syndrome and PDD-NOS also called atypical autism and which stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified.

No wonder autism is quite difficult to diagnose. In addition, your pediatrician may tend to hold off on labeling your child until many tests have been done that all point to the same conclusion.

So what are the causes of autism?

Right now there is still uncertainty about the causes of this condition. Some have mentioned genetics, problems during pregnancy and birth, side effects of vaccinations, viral infections, allergies to certain foods such as gluten, sugar and dairy products for example, as well as exposure to environmental toxins.

The focus in the treatment of autism is on trying to create and maintain harmony, good health and a balance in the patient’s brain and nervous system, all while avoiding negative side effects and sedating the patient.

With this condition a multi-disciplinary approach seems to work best, however the side effects of prescription drugs can be so severe that it is important to find the right balance.

The main methods of treating autism encompass the following areas;

1. Diet – since some foods are believed to accentuate autistic behavior, diets are amended and monitored to look out for these triggers. Nutritional supplements have been reported by many parents to be very helpful. Sine our brains are fueled by what we eat it makes perfect sense to me that our diet can have a significant in the functioning of an autistic person.

2. Medications – Using prescription drugs is always a matter of choice, in my opinion, as there are side effects to be considered with the use of these. So you need to weigh the benefits of handling the symptoms with these possible side effects and long term health disadvantages.

3. Behavioral & Therapeutic Methods – The earlier these treatments or therapies are started the more effective they tend to be. Some of the techniques used are music therapy, physiotherapy, behavior modification, occupational therapy, sensory integration, and speech therapy

4. Natural Treatments– Natural treatments can be much better alternatives than prescription drugs due to the factor of the harmful side effects that prescription drugs commonly have. Due to the severity of this condition my recommendation would be for you to consult with a naturopath for advice on which natural treatments to work with.

Take the time to find the help and the natural treatment you need, and you’ll be able to get on with your life and enjoy it to the fullest. You deserve to be happy and healthy and pain-free.