Outisme is ‘n lewenslange, komplekse ontwikkelings afwyking, wat alle bevolkingsgroepe/kulture wêreldwyd ewe veel affekteer. Tans 1 uit 88 geboortes. Dit is vier keer meer algemeen by seuns as meisies en ook vier keer meer algemeen by die eersgeborenes as latere geboortes.

Light it up blue (LIUB), gedryf deur Autism South Africa (asa) in Suid- Afrika, is ‘n wêreldwye veldtog om met die bewusmaking van outisme te help.

What does the word “Autism” mean?

It is a Latin word construction that simply means “self+condition” or atypical condition of the self. Autism is a word that names a specific set of significant behavioural symptoms that have been linked to biological impacts on the typical development patterns of growth, change, and stability of the central nervous system over the life span of people within the Autistic Spectrum.

Autism is medically/psychiatrically classified as a Pervasive Developmental Disorder that globally effects a person’s early cognitive development, usually including basic sensorimotor planning, typical behaviours, communication powers (distinct from speech and language capacity), and social relatedness capacities.

Most often, it present as significant delays in pre-schoolers’ typically rapid and broad acquisition of functional skills, communication fluency and typical social interactiveness across people, places and events.

It is usually apparent in its affects in infants from birth to three years old, when our critical initial neurological development takes place. However, Mild Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome may only become apparent as late as 5 to 10 years old, when a child’s higher social communication, reasoning, and perspective-taking skills should emerge.

What causes Autism?

The developmental features and behavioural symptoms of Autism are the result of a neurological disorder that affects the typical growth, change and stability of the structures and functions of the central nervous system – the brain. Autism has proven to have a large number of causes that may fall into two categories:

  1. Internal (genetic/innate and congenital/naturally occurring) and
  2. EXTERNAL (environmental toxins / but NOT nurtured).

Recent Genome project research shows that as many as 20 – 30 genes may be involved in Autism. This means that we do not yet have a single genetic marker test to predict risks of Autism or to identify prenatal or new born infants with Autism. Environmental means that some specific non-genetic elements that the child was exposed to during pregnancy or infancy (birth to three), may cause pervasive changes or significant damage to the anatomical structures or biochemical systems of the brain during the pregnancy and/or the early years of life. Autism is also varied congenital condition that can just occur naturally as the nervous system unborn or young child develops.

‘n Paar kenmerke van outisme:

-Speel nie met maats nie.

-Onvanpaste gehegtheid aan voorwerpe.

-Lag of giggel onvanpas of sonder duidelike rede.

-Waarneembare fisiese ooraktiwiteit of waarneembare ekstreme passiwiteit.

-Reageer nie op normale onderrigmetodes nie.

-Eendersheid of dieselfde roetine.

-Verset teen verandering.

-Verkies om alleen te wees. Afsydige houding.

-Nie werklike vrees vir gevare nie.

-Tol /draai voorwerpe.

-Volgehoue, eienaardige spel.

-Geen reaksie op verbale opdragte; tree op asof doof is.

-Echolalia (Herhaal woorde of frases in die plek van taal)

-Woedebuie – vertoon ekstreme onsteltenis vir geen duidelike rede.

-Gebruik gebare of wys met vinger i.v.p. van praat om behoeftes duidelik te maak.

-Ongelyke grof- en fyn motoriese vaardighede. (bv. skop nie bal, maar kan blokke stapel.)

-Wil nie drukkies hê / gee nie. Wil nie vertroetel wees nie.

Elke persoon met outisme is egter uniek en hoef nie noodwendig al die kenmerke te hê nie.

What are we facing if our child does have Autism?

The reality we must face is that Autism is often a very misunderstood condition. It is a use-able diagnostic identification for a wide spectrum of disorders in relation a number of underlying causes, many of which are still unknown. The word “Autism” then does help us accurately name a real condition noted for very atypical thinking processes, complex and difficult social behaviours, diverse communication profiles.

Most of our families must deal with many struggles. It is a struggle to initially obtain a proper diagnosis. It is usually an on-going struggle to find and provide our children the most appropriate services and effective interventions. It is a struggle to live, work and copes together as we learn how to support persons with Autism to understand our typical world of people, objects and events. These struggles will be some of the most important and worthwhile ones we experience in our life. Ad midst all these struggles we must engage in the challenge of achieving our potentials for a full and satisfying life too. This is why maintaining a healthy self and family care balance is very important.

A final thought:

Like many complex issues, around the world, in the field of Autism there are different ideologies and perspectives regarding the “correct” approach to take. As usual, there is no one “right” answer, no solution that works for every family and person with Autism. Therefore, it is important that everyone in our community learn to respect each other’s hopes, ideas, concerns and choices and commit to fully support each other’s efforts.

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