Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurological disorder that inhibits brain development and affects how a person interacts with other people. It also impacts a person’s ability to learn and the way they perceive certain situations. People who have the disorder generally show repetitive behavior and have restricted interests.
ASD usually develops within the first two years of life. Some children may start showing symptoms within the first year only, while others seem completely normal at first and then develop symptoms between the age of 18 to 24 months.
Some social interaction traits and behaviors of ASD patients may include the following:
- Making minimal eye-contact while having a conversation.
- Not responding to their names when called several times or failing altogether.
- Lacking facial expressions.
- Difficulty in starting and/or holding a conversation.
- Having robot-like or sing-song speech in an unusual tone.
- Failing to understand simple questions and instructions.
- Having problems with recognizing facial expressions and tone of voice.
Some restrictive and repetitive behaviors may include:
- Getting irritated by small changes in routine.
- Having extreme, long-lasting interests in certain subjects.
- Repeating certain words or phrases.
- Being fascinated by and fixated on the details of an object.
- Consistently repeating certain movements like spinning and rocking.
- Sensitivity to light, touch, and sound.
ASD is a complex disorder, and causes may differ depending on its severity. Some of the most common ones include:
- Having an immediate family member with ASD.
- Being born to parents in their old age.
- Having an abnormally low birth weight.
- Having genetic conditions like fragile X syndrome, Down’s syndrome, and Rett syndrome.
- Suffering from viral infections.
Challenges of being a caregiver to someone with ASD
An autism diagnosis will deeply affect not only the patient’s future but also that of people who are close to them. ASD patients have unique needs, and the responsibility of fulfilling them ultimately lies upon family and friends. Family caregivers have to divert most of their attention towards providing necessary treatments and resources. Something that can take its toll on their emotional, mental, and physical health.
It can be challenging to take time off work and other daily activities, but caring for an autism patient makes it essential. Priorities need to change once you’ve taken responsibility and accepting that most of your time will go into fulfilling your loved one’s requirements is a part of the process. Moreover, the financial constraints that come with treatments and special needs can potentially put a huge dent on your savings.
Despite all of its challenging aspects, taking care of a loved one with ASD can be a gratifying experience. After all, you’re shaping the life-course of an individual who needs a helping hand. Nevertheless, it is natural for the entire process to affect a person’s mental health significantly.
While taking care of your loved one, it is crucial to take care of yourself as well. The best way to do that is by sharing your feelings and experiences with people who relate and will understand what you’re going through. Try out ExtendaTouch’s autism helpline to meet other family caregivers who have had similar experiences. It will make you feel much better. There are many individuals on ExtendaTouch who can help you to cope with the difficulties, provide you with emotional support, and give you useful advice, information, and ideas.