With the current number of cases of autism estimated at one in 150, many families are working towards gaining a better understanding of the developmental disorder. Autistic children do have special needs but the condition is not usually the stereotyped version that many of us come across on television.
One pet peeve that many parents of autistic children have is the media’s portrayal of the developmental disorder. It seems as if many individuals automatically picture Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rainman when they think about autism. However, this character doesn’t represent the majority of autistic children.
Rainman’s Charlie Babbitt is based on a real man named Kim Peek. Kim is an autistic savant. This type of autism is actually quite rare, representing about ten percent of the autistic population as a whole. Ironically, this character is so strongly related to the developmental disorder than many people automatically think of Rainman when they think of autism.
In actuality, autistic children have a wide range of abilities as well as a wide range of challenges to face and in many cases speech and/or occupational therapy can assist. There are five pervasive developmental disorders. Autism is one of the five disorders. Asperger’s Syndrome is another of the five pervasive developmental disorders as well.
Autistic children do not always have autism. What I mean is the autism spectrum of disorders is quite vast. The child may have Asperger’s Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder and these conditions fall on the autism spectrum of disorders. The confusion lies in the fact that autistic children have a pervasive developmental disorder.
A child can have PDD but not have autism but PDD falls into the autism spectrum of disorders. Confusing, right? I guess that this is fitting considering how very confusion the whole subject really is. Autistic children do not always fall into the stereotyped vision that many people automatically associate with the disorder.
If you are the parent of an autistic child you probably have done considerable research into the topic. There are plenty of resources available and there are many clinical studies under way that will hopefully help to uncover this puzzling developmental disorder.
Early intervention is the key to helping children with autism thrive in their environments. There are a number of different approaches to consider including occupational and speech therapy as well as programs like Wraparound. Parents of autistic children can also find developmental toys and sensory activities that can work wonders for their kids.
For now, the subject of autism and related pervasive developmental disorders is very murky. The best thing parents of autistic children can do is find the help they need as soon as they see the symptoms of autism.