What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disability that affects a person’s communication skills and relationship with others, as well as how they experience the world around them. Children who have autism are usually described as being ‘on the autism spectrum’ because their symptoms can vary so much.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai we bring together a wide group of specialist doctors so that your child’s care can be tailored to his or her particular needs. Our doctors are experts in developmental behavioural paediatrics, as well as child neurology, neurodevelopmental disabilities, and the whole area of psychology, psychiatry, speech and language, and genetics.
Our team of paediatricians and therapists provide the full range of diagnostic services, in-depth assessments and on-going support for children and their families. We understand the importance of long term support for you and your child, and will advise on behavioural therapies and teaching approaches that offer the best outcomes. We take a holistic approach to the treatment of Autism, recognising the complexity of the condition and the anxiety many families feel about their child’s development.
What causes Autism?
Although no one knows exactly what causes autism, research suggests that there may be a genetic link that increases the risk. It’s been discovered that siblings of a child with autism are more likely to have the condition or a problem related to it, such as language difficulties. More children are diagnosed with autism than in previous decades, but this may be due to an increased awareness among medical professionals of the signs and symptoms of the condition.
What are the signs and symptoms of autism?
In most cases, the signs and symptoms begin when the child is around three years old, although these may not show until later in some cases. Signs include:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Communicating and playing differently from other children
- Reduced non-verbal communication (such as pointing or gestures)
- Difficulty joining in with other children, preferring to play alone or with adults
- Delayed development of language
- Difficulty understanding subtleties of ‘reading’ and relating to other people (the child may behave in ways that seem to be socially inappropriate)
- Disliking change, becoming anxious when asked to do something differently
- Developing interests that are intense, and being upset if interrupted
- Sensory sensitivities: the child’s sense of sight, sound, smell, touch or taste is intensified or under-sensitive
However, at King’s College Hospital Dubai we feel that it’s also very important to focus on the specific strengths that children with autism often have. For example, in many cases they have greater attention to detail than others, and are very trustworthy and reliable; their intense interests can also be channelled to gain particular skills.
How is autism diagnosed?
Having an early diagnosis of autism can help parents to plan for any extra support or resources their child may need. It normally involves detailed discussions with parents/carers that focus on the child’s development and behaviour.
How is autism treated?
Although there is no cure for children with conditions that are on the autism spectrum, your doctor will be able to offer you useful advice about programmes that can help your child with his or her specific challenges.
More information/support groups
There are a number of UK-based and Dubai-based charities that can offer helpful advice and support through their websites for children with autism and their families. These include:
Other behavioural disorders
There are a number of behavioural disorders that can affect children at various stages of their development.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai we bring together a wide group of doctors so that your child’s care can be tailored to his or her particular needs. Our doctors are experts in developmental behavioural paediatrics as well as child neurology, neurodevelopmental disabilities, and the whole area of psychology, psychiatry, speech and language and genetics.
Contact us for more information or to arrange an appointment with one of our specialist doctors. The doctors at our medical centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have extensive knowledge and experience in spotting the signs of autism in addition to diagnosing and providing support to children who suffer from a number of behavioural issues.