What's wrong with all the autistic kids

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What is autism

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder in the brain. The manifestations can vary in strength, which is why one often speaks of "autism spectrum disorders" instead of autism. "Spectrum" (appearance) refers to the different degrees of severity of the signs and the level of impairments.

An "autism spectrum disorder" is only spoken of when enough of the characteristic properties are present. Because of course not everyone who likes to do things alone or always in the same order is automatically an autistic person.

Some people with autism are only slightly impaired, while others have severe or multiple disabilities. Autistic children become autistic adults, which is why many autistic people are dependent on lifelong help. If autism is recognized early, however, it is possible for those affected with therapeutic help to find their way around our society and lead an independent life.

Every person in the autism spectrum is individual!

Although many of them share certain characteristics, no autistic person or person is like the other. It is characteristic of almost all people on the autism spectrum that they have difficulty speaking to and responding to others. They perceive impressions from their environment differently and unfiltered. Autistic people often have unusual ways of thinking and problem-solving strategies, pursue their often special interests very intensively and sometimes lapse into repetitive movements in the process. They also have an enormous need for consistency.

How many people are approximately autistic?

If all autism spectrum disorders are taken together, about six to seven in 1,000 people count to it. One to two in 1,000 people are autistic in early childhood and one to three people in 1,000 are Asperger's autism.
Boys and men are more likely to be autistic than girls or women.
Autism occurs in all social classes and ethnicities.

What are the signs that my child is autistic?

The first indications of autistic behavior usually appear before the age of three and are particularly evident in three areas: in the child's behavior towards other people, in the child's communication with others and in the child's constant repetition of certain behaviors.

Special features in dealing with other people: Autistic people

  • pay little attention to and react little to other people,
  • have trouble starting a conversation
  • use certain words repeatedly,
  • have a hard time maintaining eye contact and using their own body language properly,
  • have a hard time building relationships with their peers (don't share toys, etc.),
  • react in an unusual and often unpredictable manner to anger or affection from others.

Special features in one's own behavior: autistic people

  • are often very focused on a certain thing or object,
  • often have difficulties in perceiving and processing sensory impressions, which can lead to excessive demands (light is too bright, noises arrive unfiltered and are too loud),
  • often repeat monotonous actions,
  • are often very interested in systems of order such as numbers or symbols,
  • often have a passionate interest in a particular topic that can last or change for a lifetime,
  • are afraid of changes (e.g. new curtains, another route to school, unannounced visit) and can only deal with it with difficulty - it becomes easier if you are prepared for changes beforehand,
  • therefore stick to certain habits in a rather inflexible manner,
  • are sometimes afraid of being touched and feel pain in the process,
  • often have problems falling asleep or staying asleep,
  • are prone to unforeseen and uncontrollable actions or self-harm.

Why is early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder important and who makes it?

The first signs of an autism spectrum disorder in children can be downplayed by parents according to the motto "He or she will catch up!" In addition, many parents may fear a life-changing diagnosis. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to make a clear statement about an autistic expression so that the child can improve their individual abilities with the help of therapy and support.
If the parents or caregivers are not aware that a child is autistic, then the child's special behavior that deviates from the norm may be punished with the wrong consequences and the child is not given enough support and encouraged in the best possible way. Or the parents and caregivers plague themselves with self-reproach because they have the feeling that they are "not in control" of their child.

Who Is Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

If an early autism spectrum disorder is suspected, the first point of contact is the pediatrician, who, however, can only express a suspicion and, if necessary, will refer your child to a child psychologist who is specific Can make a diagnosis.

According to the official diagnosis, in addition to a justified fear of what is in store for them, many parents may experience relief: It is now clear that your child is something special and that you, as parents, have not failed in bringing up the child.

Why is my child especially autistic?

According to the current state of research, autism is considered to be innate and incurable. So far, researchers have not been able to determine clearly what the causes of autistic disorders are.
Misconduct, i.e. incorrect upbringing by parents or other caregivers, cannot lead to autism. The theory of the "refrigerator mother", who with her heartless behavior pulls her child up to become autistic, has long been refuted.
Nor does vaccination of children lead to autism.

What types of autism spectrum disorders are there?

There are different forms of autism that develop in different phases of life, but mostly in toddler age.

Early childhood autism (Kanner syndrome, infantile autism)

The first peculiarities appear before the age of 3; Difficulties in social interaction, communication and understanding; delayed language development, sometimes no spoken language; atypical, sometimes repetitive movements; low to normal high (measured) intelligence

Early signs

If young children have any of the following characteristics, suspected autism spectrum disorder should be checked by a health care professional.

  • Insufficient or absent eye contact,
  • lack of or poor tracking of another person's line of sight,
  • not pointing with the finger,
  • lack of reaction to being called by one's own name,
  • Lack of empathy (e.g. when others express pain)
  • Regression or loss of previously acquired language or interactive skills,
  • Little or no role play ("pretend").

Asperger's Autism

The first peculiarities appear before the age of 3; Difficulties in social interaction, communication and understanding; early language development, high language level; Special interests, sometimes motor difficulties, normal to high (measured) intelligence

Early signs

Asperger's autism is often only diagnosed after infancy, which is why there is little meaningful knowledge about early signs, but there are noticeable peculiarities:

  • Monotonous behaviors,
  • monotonous usage: speaks little or especially a lot; often understands what is said literally,
  • little empathy: does not understand other people's feelings,
  • ritualized behaviors,
  • Fear of change,
  • limited fantasy play,
  • lack of desire and ability to relate to peers,
  • Difficulty working together.

Atypical autism

This term is used when a person's behavior fits into the autism spectrum, but not all of the criteria for, for example, early childhood autism or Asperger's autism are met.

Special features can also occur in late childhood; any difficulties in social interaction, communication and understanding; possibly delayed, impaired or absent language development; possibly atypical, sometimes repetitive movements; low to high (measured) intelligence.

How can I help my autistic child?

Living with an autistic child is a major challenge for parents, siblings and all other caregivers. On the one hand it brings a lot of fulfillment, because your own life is completely rethought and structured, you get to know yourself anew, on the other hand it is without question extremely demanding and exhausting. A lot of strength, patience and optimism are required, support from the social environment is essential.

It is important that you get the support you need to recharge your own batteries!

Parents meetings for parents with an autistic child are a good place to exchange ideas and motivate one another.

Play a lot together!

In general, of course, daily and regular play with your child is extremely important for their development. A fixed place is suitable for this, where all the toys are ready. You may be able to create a game log to record progress and anomalies. Let the playtime with your child always end positively for your child!

You should always be aware that autistic children learn in small steps!

Some additional tips:

  • Give your child a lot of praise! This can be done through language, but also in the form of small rewards.
  • Create fixed structures (daily routine, rules in everyday life, clear agreements) for your child. That gives her or him security and manageability and also takes away the fear.
  • Announce changes to the fixed plans in good time (e.g. a short detour before school).
  • Do not be discouraged! If necessary, reduce your own claims.
  • However, always be patient and persistent at the same time.
  • Despite any frustrations, try not to let yourself be stressed. Otherwise your stress will spread to your child.

Who can help us with our autistic child?

It is important that you get help! It should be clear to you that you are not alone, but that there is a wide range of different support and advice centers that are at your side with your child.

Parents and caregivers find professional support in autism therapy centers, early intervention centers and occupational therapists.

The aim of autism therapy is the integration of people on the autism spectrum into society, the reduction of excessively monotonous or (auto) aggressive behavior.

Financing is provided by integration assistance (social welfare or youth welfare agency). The decisive factor here is Section 35a of Book VIII of the Social Code, the integration aid for mentally handicapped children and young people.

One of the many ways to facilitate your autistic child's school career is, on the one hand, the mobile special education service, on the other hand, a school companion who accompanies your child throughout school and during the lessons as a contact person between the child, the other students and the teachers occurs.

How do I deal with the siblings of autistic children?

Siblings of autistic children grow up under special conditions. You are often given responsibility for the autistic sibling. You have to back off from him or her with the parents because they have to give more care and attention to the autistic sibling.
In addition, the healthy siblings as well as their parents need patience, forbearance, composure and resistance to stress, because they have to put up with a lot when their autistic sister or brother screams uncontrollably, demands certain (seemingly illogical) rules and regulations or something breaks.

Parents should therefore speak openly with their children about the special needs of the autistic sibling, but also plan time without the autistic sibling and do something alone with him or her. It is important that the family draws up common rules for everyday family life, which are understandable for everyone and are adhered to.

You can also read our specialist articles on the following topics:

Further information

Parents letters

This topic can be found in the letters from parents ...