Living with autism

    • Brief

    • Autism is a group of lifelong development disorders in which the brain works differently from that of other people. People with autism interact differently with their environment. As a result, they struggle with social signals, keeping eye contact, making friends and sometimes even speaking. The extent to which it affects their daily life varies from person to person. The amount of help a child with autism needs depends on how severe their condition is. People with high functioning autism can attend regular schools. While those with more severe symptoms may require personal tutoring.

      Autism has no clear cause, just as there is no known cure for the condition. However, identifying the condition early ensures that the child gets the support and resources required to live a life of opportunity and fulfilment.

    • Living with autism

    • Children living with autism may have:

      • Problems relating with other people and making friends.
      • An inability to understand their own feelings and those of others.
      • Violent responses to changes in their routine or environment.
      • Unusual reactions to noise, touch, light and even fabric texture.
      • Problems maintaining eye contact.
      • Delayed speech development or may be unable to speak.

      Adults and teens with autism have a higher unemployment rate, and most do not pursue tertiary education. Consequently, they do not have the same opportunities for progress in life as their peers.

    • What to do as a caregiver

      • Do not panic: a diagnosis of autism can be very sad and difficult. But it is essential to stay calm and be positive. With appropriate care, your child can grow up to live an independent life.
      • Learn about the condition: discuss autism with your healthcare provider and ask questions. You can also check for information on your own from verified sources. Incorrect information may expose you to scams and subject your child to stress in an attempt to 'cure' them.
      • Always take time to care for your own health needs: take days off, surround yourself with helpful and supportive people. You are in a better position to care for your child when you are well.
      • Pay attention to your child’s meals: take note of what food textures your child enjoys and find similarities between them. You can use these similarities to guide your introduction of new meals.
      • Create a routine and stick to it: a detailed schedule with bedtime, wake-up times, meals and other activities will benefit your child's development. You must keep changes to this routine to a minimum.
      • Set aside time to play: playtime should be when your child is awake and the activities should aim at helping your child relax and bond with you. Children with autism do better with organized play rather than spontaneous play.
      • Work closely with healthcare providers: working closely with your child's therapist and other members of the health team is essential in achieving results.
      • Join a support group for people caring for children with autism: you can ask your healthcare provider about support groups nearby. Sharing stories with people who have similar experiences can help you feel less alone with your child's condition. There are a number of support groups in Nigeria such as the Autism Care and Support Initiative.

    • What to do as a person living with autism

      • Educate yourself about your condition and how it may affect your activities.
      • Develop a daily routine.
      • Eat healthily and exercise regularly.
      • Surround yourself with people that understand your particularities and who are willing to help you.
      • Join support groups for people with similar conditions.
    • Kulawa cares

    • Autism has no known cure or cause. It is essential to focus on your strengths and avail yourself of opportunities to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. Caretakers must support children with autism and not beat or shame them.