The concept of child bearing is often overwhelming for new parents: it comes with joy and challenges. A child will often cry, wants everything and sometimes want nothing. She doesn’t seem to obey your instructions and want to her own bidding. She can be daring, wanting to attempt the seemingly impossible tasks. She won’t of course sit still, so you know better not to leave any breakable or dangerous items around. Despite all these “troubles”, we still want these children.
When a child is born, the parents immediately begin to plan for her future, crèche and what schools she will attend.
Parents know the child need all the help necessary and they do everything possible to get it. In fact, they are proud to discuss their kids with their friends they believe that despite all these “troubles”, there is more to the child and so they can plan ahead for the future with all confidence. However, when a child with a developmental challenge is born this whole concept changes. A child with autism, for instance, has difficulties in the areas of socialization, communication and behaviour. Although they come with these challenges and impish behaviour of childhood, they are children. So like ‘normal’ children, we can look forward with hope and confidence that there is more. And yes, there is more! It is important to note that there is no one kind of autism, every child with autism is unique. Prognosis could vary both as a function of the cause and a function of associated conditions that a child might have. Communication and language are among the defining characteristics of this condition. Children with autism can be taught to imitate other people’s speech through shaping and discrimination training.
The child demonstrates imitation by copying the words or phrase s made by teacher. Once the child can imitate, speech become easier and progress can be made in teaching some of them to use labels, plurals, sentences and other more complex form of languages. Others, however, may require alternatives to vocal speech such as sign language and device that have vocal output and can literally ‘speak’ for the child. IQ measures are used to determine prognosis, the higher the children score on IQ test, the less likely they are to need extensive support by family member and people in the helping profession. The better the language skill and IQ test performance, the better the prognosis. And there is more! One of the striking features of autism is their unusual reaction to other people. However, therapy procedures have helped increase behaviours such as playing toys and peers, some improvements in the quality of these interactions. And there is more!
As children with autism grow older, intervention focuses on efforts to integrate them into the community, often with supported living arrangements and work settings. Some people however, are able to live in their own homes with minimal from family members. And there is more! Although we can’t predict the future, prognosis is better today than it ever has been. With earlier identification and early intensive intervention, the prognosis is much better now than ever before. And there is more!
There will always be more! Children with disabilities will often surprise us by the leaps they take and the way at which they surpass every known medical prognosis. Parents of children with autism and other related conditions, physical or otherwise, need to look forward. They need to look ahead with faith and confidence that there is more
Children Development Centre
Surulere, Lagos state