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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Autism and ADHD

What parents should know

IT USED to be that when a little boy or girl is too aggressive and hyperactive, or too timid or not interactive enough, parents would dismiss this as just part of the child’s developmental years. But what if the hyperactivity becomes too annoying or the non-interactivity becomes too alarming, when should a parent worry?

Despite recent studies released publicly on developmental disabilities that affect children, parents remain clueless on the red flag signs that their child is indeed suffering from a developmental condition. Among the most prevalent conditions today – Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD – continue to challenge not only the children suffering from them, but more so their parents who are at a loss as to how they would help their children cope with such developmental conditions.

"The challenge to help children with autism or ADHD live quality lives depends on their parents. By learning about their child’s condition and the latest treatments available today, and giving their full love, understanding, patience and support to the child, individuals with autism or ADHD can even become productive citizens of society."

Among the red flag signs of Autism that parents may observe are as follows: Lack of warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter; no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months and thereafter; no babbling or back-and-forth gestures like pointing, showing, reaching or waving by age 12 months; no words by 16 months; no two-word meaningful phrases without imitating or repeating by two years old; and loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age. Autism is described as a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by impairment of verbal and non-verbal communication, reciprocal social interaction and imaginative activity.

Signs of ADHD on the other hand – which is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity – include lack of focused attention or showing more interest on exciting graphics, bright colors, or flashing lights; general lack of self-control and accident proneness; difficulty in turn taking during play; restlessness; and excess overt motor activity such as excessive talking, humming or making noise.

Such red flags can be overwhelming for parents, but it is extremely important to recognize that the child might need medical help rather than succumb in denial and extend punishment on the child or letting him be absorbed in his own world.: "There’s no specific cure but there are treatment and intervention program options available to help children with autism or ADHD cope with their condition. Studies show that outlook for most children who receive treatment for ADHD or autism is encouraging, especially if intervention programs are started early enough.

What is important is that parents should seek help to fully understand their child’s condition and how they can help their child reach his full potential despite his condition. Treatment given to the child must be  tailored to suit the child’s special needs, while providing a multi-disciplinary approach to cover a wider range of developmental and behavioral services that the child needs

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