Autism (ASD)

According to DSM IV   [American psychiatric association 1994. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that is manifested by the following characteristics.

  • Qualitative impairment in reciprocal social interactions.
  •  Qualitative impairment in verbal and non verbal communication and imaginative play.
  • Restricted repertoire of activities and interests.
  • Onset to age three years

In addition, experts in the field include following as signs indicative of autism.

  • Disturbances in developmental rates and sequences that affect motor, cognitive and socio-emotional areas.
  • Disturbance in Response to sensory stimuli evidenced as hyper reactivity to hypo reactivity and the alternation of these 2 states over periods ranging from hours to Months.

Early Identification:

Signs of abnormal development can be found early in the life of the child with Autism Autism is often described as having 2 types of Clinical onset. In the First type, Children exhibits signs of Autism as early as a few hours after birth (Gillberg & Coleman 1992) In the Second type children are described as developing normally until 12 to 24 Months of age and then regress, Loss previously acquired functions, and exhibit specific symptoms of Autism.

0 -6 Months:
Muscular hypotonic and peculiar posturing.
Extreme response to sensory input
Decreased vocalizations or crying that are not related to physiological needs.
Absent or delayed smiling and poor eye contact

6 - 12 months:
Language development: unusual fear, babbling may stop, pointing is not used, and the child fails to learn imitative    sounds.
Social interaction: The infant does not express interests in toys and fails to imitate simple actions such as waving goodbye.
Lack of imitation is observed in the fine motor areas in that children with autism are often unable to imitate interactions with simple toys.

12 – 36 Months:
There is loss of previously acquired skills. Inconsistent response to sensory input. The child also exhibits repetitive motor actions and an unusual use of toys. The child may have no speech, stop talking, and be echolalic, exhibit good rote memory. Socially, the child is withdrawn shown no distress when separated from the mother or care taker is content when left alone, does not play with others.

After 36Months:
T he child continues to be sensitivity to sensory stimuli and changes in the environment and daily routine.

How does sensory integration help child with Autism?
A sensory integration room is designed to make the child want to run into it and play. During sensory integration therapy, the child interacts one-on-one with the occupational therapist and performs an activity that combines sensory input with motion. Examples of such activities include:

  • swinging in a hammock (movement through space);
  • dancing to music (sound);
  • playing in boxes filled with beans (touch);
  • crawling through tunnels (touch and movement through space);
  • hitting swinging balls (eye-hand coordination);
  • spinning on a chair (balance and vision); and
  • Balancing on a beam (balance).

The child is guided through all of these activities in a way that is stimulating and challenging. The focus of sensory integration therapy is helping children with autism combine appropriate movements with input they get from the different senses. A parent can integrate sensory integration into the home by providing many opportunities for a child to move in different ways and feel different things. For example, a swing set can be a form of sensory integration therapy, as can a ball pit or a lambskin rug