So today I’m gonna babble about Autism. “Apa aaa?”, my brother’s reaction when my mother told him about Ihsan’s condition LOL! 😛 Now I’m gonna explain about ASD by my own words and references from various websites. I’m going to try to make it brief and compact enough, easy to understand words.
What Is Autism?
Autism is known as a complex developmental disability. Experts believe that autism presents itself during the first three years of a person’s life. Autism is a form of neurological disorder. Autism is not an illness but rather more to a condition. Because an autism kid is already like that when he/she was born. It is not a mental retardation. But it is sometimes considered as brain injured. The brain works differently compared to the brain of yours and mine. This condition has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person’s communication skill, social interaction skill, learning, emotional, activities etc. Autism is not a contagious disease for sure LOL! 😛 Eh ada orang tanya macam ni tau!
Now imagine, here is Point A and here is Point B. In your brain and mine, the line that connects A to B is straight. But in Ihsan’s brain, the line might have stopped somewhere and never reached B or the line might have been all over the places before it finally reaches B. Or there might be some sort of disturbance to the line making it difficult to reach B. A little disorders in the brain, may affect the kid mildly but the more disorders in the brain, the kid can be affected from moderate to severe condition. However since the brain of autism kid is connected differently, there is also line that connects A to B too efficiently compared to yours and mine. To which it is usual for autism kids despite of their disabilities, still have extraordinary abilities in some ways. So as a parent myself, I have to be a detective to detect what is Ihsan’s special ability and turn or use that ability so that it can fully benefit Ihsan himself.
What Causes Autism
Dr. Leo Kanner (1894-1981), who was born in Klekotow, Austria, is one of the first persons to study autism. He was a psychiatrist and physician. Over 60 years ago, Dr. Leo Kanner applied the term autism to a group of children who were self-absorbed and who had severe social, language and behavioral problems. Until today, nobody knows for sure what causes autism.
One thing is certain. Autism is neither due to bad parenting nor nurturing. There have been claims that autism is triggered by genetic or environmental factors, but this theory remains inconclusive. Other notable suspects are vaccination, food allergies, chemical intolerance and yeast infection. It can happen to anyone xkisahlah kaya, miskin, bangsa, agama, tahap pendidikan etc. It is more common in males than in females.
The psychologist that diagnosed Ihsan said to me something like this, “It just happened and it’s nobody’s fault. There’s not known exact reason. Just accept that he’s just born like that”. So, redha sahaja. Xperlu pening2 fikir kenapa 🙂
What Is ASD?
ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder and can sometimes be referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorder. In this text, Autism and ASD mean the same. ASDs are any developmental disabilities that have been caused by a brain abnormality. A person with an ASD typically has difficulty with social and communication skills. A person with ASD will typically also prefer to stick to a set of behaviors and will resist any major (and many minor) changes to daily activities.
ASD Is A Wide-Spectrum Disorder
ASD is a wide-spectrum disorder. This means that no two people with ASD will have exactly the same symptoms although they are diagnosed as sharing the same disorder. As well as experiencing varying combinations of symptoms, some people will have mild symptoms while others will have severe ones. People with ASD can be chatty or silent, affectionate or cold, methodical or disorganized. Sebab tu ianya dipanggil spectrum sebab tiada budak yang for example Mild ASD juga, yang sama macam Ihsan. Walaupun the other kid pun Mild ASD, tapi difficulties dia mesti ada yang lain daripada Ihsan.
What Are PDD?
PDD stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder is a formal term that means exactly the same thing as the less formal Autism Spectrum Disorder. As with the ASD, the group of disorders described as PDDs includes Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett Syndrome.
So, PDD = formal term. ASD = informal term.
Types Of ASD
Generally ASD is usually classified into 5 disorders:
- Autistic Disorder
- Asperger Syndrome
- Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
- Rett Syndrome
As for Ihsan, he was diagnosed as Mild ASD or Mild Autism. Which as you can see not listed into the 5 common disorders. However there is Autistic Disorder mentioned. Autistic Disorder is usually known as Severe Autism. It goes by many other names though, including Profound Autism, Low Functioning Autism (LFA) or Classic Autism. People with autistic disorder are often non-verbal and intellectually disabled, and may have very challenging behaviors.
As explained by the psychologist during the assessment day, there is a very clear line between Autistic Disorder and Mild ASD. Ihsan although speech delayed but he is verbal and has a lot of vocab. Although he is lack of social interaction but he still has minimal skill. He can learn and already knew many things. He is also capable of doing many activities. He still can understand and obey a few instructions. Besides that, he has no obsessive challenging behaviors and obvious sensory or nerve issues. Even if he does, at the moment it could be very very mild that doesn’t really affects Ihsan’s life. She couldn’t see any problem with Ihsan and she felt that Ihsan can be corrected if provided optimum intervention or treatment. So because of that, Ihsan doesn’t fit into the Autistic Disorder category.
Fyi, besides Mild ASD there is a term that becoming more commonly used such as High Functioning Autism (HFA). It is usually used to distinguish a person who is HFA from a person with Asperger Syndrome. Other types of disorders that also related to autism are like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and etc. Some kids can have overlapping signs that they are diagnosed as not having only 1 but 2 or more disorders. Sometimes as time passes by, they will get a different disorder from the previous one during re-diagnosis. Because the kid’s behaviors can change over time.
Sometimes I feel it is very confusing to really know where Ihsan position is. But as told by the psychologist and from my various reading, it is hard to judge behaviors. Behavior is judged based on a set of criteria but there is no precise result. A kid can get a more or less different result from each specialist because they will diagnose based on how the kid is behaving during the time of assessment. So the psychologist told me xperlu pergi buat banyak2 diagnosis just to get an accurate result. Memang xboleh dapat. Although the ‘label’ is important because Ihsan will bring that label throughout his life and it’s good for him not to get mislabeled.
However what’s most important after all is as parents we should pay more attention on Ihsan’s difficulties and provide him with all the help he needs. Now I’m still in the process of understanding Ihsan. Since the day his condition was confirmed, barulah nampak signs of ASD in him since he was a baby. Sebelum ni xtahu dan xnampak sangat sebab Ihsan xbuat benda2 tu obsessively. Budak2 typical pun memang common buat benda2 tu. Tapi Ihsan ni bila ditambah2 signs itu sikit ini sikit sana sikit so dah memenuhi criteria Mild ASD tu.
That’s all for now. I will continue with What Is Autism Part II nanti beginning with signs of autism, diagnosis, treatments etc.
PS – To those who read, boleh tak bagi pendapat after reading whether you find what I have written ni easy to understand or not. Kalau perlu improvise kat mana2 please tell okay. I plan to re-edit this to distribute to families and Ihsan’s teachers at kindy. And also to kawan2 yang kalau jumpa Mama Ihsan nanti Mama Ihsan nak bagi ‘buah tangan’ ni hihihi 😛 Serious xtipu. Saja nak share info and educate masyarakat xsalah kan? 😀 Okay thanks btw!