Frequently Asked Questions: Autism

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1. What exactly is "autism"? What happens? At what age do you see Autistic behavior start to happen? My daughter is 22 months old and is not talking. She is getting speech therapy, but I am worried that she has a bigger problem. Please help.

2. I'm hoping you can lead me in the right direction we have three children. Our middle son has Asperger's Syndrome. Is there anything we need to do to prepare our daughters for their children? I know it's already a big concern for our oldest who is only 12, and I worry too for their sake. Please let me know your thoughts. From everything I've read there is a genetic component. That is why my husband does not want anymore children. Or should we turn to the spiritual side of things and leave it to the big man upstairs?

3. My son is almost 5 years old and is mildly autistic. We live in Kuwait. His main drawback is speech comprehension and failure to carry out a conversation. Since the past one month he refuses to take a activity he enjoyed previously. Forced attempts to bathe him make him hysterical and uncontrollable. We are at a loss.
If we force him to bathe would this affect his development i.e. would he regress? On the speech front what advice can you give us? We are residing in Kuwait where no proper speech therapists are available. Please reply at the earliest.

4. : I have a 6 year old boy with autism who is currently in a special class for children with autism. He is a very bright little boy, lovable, energetic and beautiful. He has a wide variety of difficulties. The main one right now is his insistence to have BM's in his pull-ups. He has no problem with urinating and will tell me when he has to go to the bathroom, most of the time. He will not tell me when he has to have a BM. He used to play in it but has recently stopped. Now that I have said this he will probably start again. I do realize that this is just another hurdle to get over, but it is time for him to do it in the toilet. Do you have any ideas for me, I am desperate!

5. H: My son is autistic (HFA), has AD/HD, Chronic Depression, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Hyperlexic Visual-Spatial Disorder, Visual accommodative insufficiencies, left side motor deficiencies, and other comorbid conditions. The school district has ignored private reports by a neuropsychologist, a developmental optometrist, and a team of psychologists who have all evaluated my son. They only reacted after I brought in two advocates. A team from the intermediate unit had to tell the school that my son needed special education services. 

He has gone all year without services, despite the fact that I asked for him to be evaluated by the school last July. We have a beginning IEP that went into effect two weeks ago; however, none of the teachers know about it. The special education teacher assigned to support my son with organizational skills and strategies has never worked with autistic students. My frustrations abound. 

My son is in dire need of an intensive social skills program. I have been told that there "is none, so good luck" by the school district. I will be pursuing compensatory education with them. Do you know of any programs that can accommodate the needs of my son with regard to social functioning and making friends?

6. My 12-year-old daughter is diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder. She maintains herself at school and gets along well with her classmates. She does have an hour per day of special education due to learning disabilities. She is on a low dose of Ritalin and Risperdal to control her outbursts and repetitive behaviors, but it doesn't seem to help that much. The problem is that when she's at home all she ever does is sit on the couch, rock while banging her head, suck her thumb, and hold a dirty old blanket. If she gets mad at her siblings, she flies into a rage. She will throw things, knock over chairs, and swear at them. She becomes totally out of control. She also is very tactilely sensitive to touch, most foods, fabrics, bathing, and brushing her teeth. How can I modify her outbursts along with convincing her to improve her hygiene? I am always calm and patient with her, but she gets really mad at me, if I make helpful suggestions.

Please e-mail us with any other questions you may have.  We will answer you personally, and perhaps add your question to this site.