By Mohammad Ali Haqshenas

The unbounded future of autistic children

February 4, 2018

In an unforgettable joyful moment, the newborn is handed to her mother at the hospital. The baby now means a world to her parents. Happy, they get back home, starting the tough challenge of raising the baby with all its nursing, burping and changing procedures. Everything seems normal till the baby’s first birthday.

Gradually, parents notice some peculiarities in the way their beloved child behaves which are not seen in her peers. The baby doesn’t make eye contact or respond to her name, she doesn’t point or wave goodbye and even doesn’t make noises to get the attention of others.

Deeply concerned, the parents visit the pediatrician hoping to wipe out their negative thoughts, however, they hear the dismal voice of the doctor announcing her diagnosis as “autism”.

What is autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a wide range of conditions characterized by challenges with speech and nonverbal communication, repetitive behaviors and social skills. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.

Lack of interest in peer relationships, lack of or delay in spoken language, lack of spontaneous or make-believe play and persistent fixation on parts of objects are among other signs of this disorder.

Autism spectrum is so wide that it can only be diagnosed by specialists, not parents. Although challenging and tough, early intervention can make a huge difference in the future of autistic kids.

The case of three Iranian autistic adults 

Farid, Amin and Touraj are three autistic adults who, thanks to early treatment in their childhood, are now living a normal life.

24-year-old Farid is attending college and working at the Autism Society of Iran, a nongovernmental organization founded in 2013, as an IT expert. He also teaches how to use computer to autistic children in Iran. 

He told Fars news agency that the full attention his parents devoted to him is one of the main reasons behind his success and recommends mothers of autistic children treat them patiently while they exhibit strange and aggressive behaviors.

“Able autistic individuals can rise to eminent positions and perform with such outstanding success that one may even conclude that only such people are capable of certain achievements.”

Amin, another autistic adult, is now 23 years old and has studied software engineering. He is also a member of the Autism Society of Iran, and is working on developing the database of the center.

“Early diagnosis is a key and if my parents haven’t had provided the required instructions, I would have faced more serious problems now,” he said appreciating his parents’ efforts which led to his “normal life”.

He considers the lack of insurance coverage for their drugs as the main problem of families with autistic children saying “The drugs are costly and many families cannot afford them.”

Touraj,  is a pianist and also works as a typists at the Autism Society of Iran. “The capabilities of autistic children should not be underestimated,” he said, adding that the public should not reject these kids.

Autism in Iran

One of the important measures adopted in Iran is the autism screening programs developed by the country’s Welfare Organization in recent years. The program screens all the children between 2 to 5 years old in special centers nationwide.

On the other hand, public relation officer of Autism Society of Iran criticizes the inappropriate conditions of medical centers for autistic children and lack of true support for the involved families.

Families who cannot afford their autistic child’s treatment costs, hospitalize them in centers which are not specialized in treating autistic children which occasionally lead to aggravating the child’s conditions, said Fatemeh Rostamipur.

She went on to say that treatment costs of autistic children grow 30 percent year on year and the government’s lack of financial support in this regard places an extra pressure on the involved families.

Autism + genius

Autism is linked to intense focus, a hawk eye for details, and excellent pattern recognition and even to genius. 

One of the prominent artists who is suffering from autism spectrum is Stephen Wiltshire. Surely it’s impossible not to become surprise by his jaw-dropping drawings.

Also, some believe that many famous and influential figures in science and art including Albert Einstein, Amadeus Mozart, Sir Isaac Newton and Michelangelo were autistic.

As Dr. Hans Asperger, one of the scientists often credited with identifying autism in the 1940s, once wrote: “Able autistic individuals can rise to eminent positions and perform with such outstanding success that one may even conclude that only such people are capable of certain achievements.”

Surely, nothing is more important than early intervention in autism. As those three guys demonstrated, proper treatment and rehabilitation programs help autistic children to lead a normal life, and can even turn them to geniuses if their talent is timely discovered.

MAH/MQ/MG

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