We should thank Almighty Allah for giving us the best physique and physique without flaws. Instead, we are perfectly created. Every day, we are surrounded by people with various disabilities, including those with physical and mental disabilities. It is completely natural and has no genetic component that can be considered as a reason for this disability.
Every human being is created with immense talent and beauty. We are truly blessed with an abundance of abilities that should never be underestimated. Indeed, witnessing individuals with physical or mental disabilities serves as a constant reminder of the blessings bestowed upon us. Alhamdulillah, we should be grateful for our sound mental health and flawless physique. It’s important to appreciate these gifts and empathize with those facing different challenges.
Through my recent experiences with a few students in my classes, I have been introduced to the term ‘autism’. However, the students were not very young; they were of the required school age, but they were observed to behave strangely in class. They were not able to convey their message when they were asked some questions. They couldn’t respond to their names and felt uncomfortable when they were pointed out in class.
Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that affects social interaction, communication, behavior, and interests. It’s characterized by a wide range of symptoms and levels of impairment, which is why it’s referred to as a “spectrum.”
Individuals with autism might have challenges in social interactions, repetitive behaviors, difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unique strengths and interests. It’s important to remember that each person with autism is unique, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely.
There are varying opinions on the causes of autism. Research suggests that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in its development. It’s likely that a combination of these factors contributes to the complexity of autism spectrum disorder. An opinion of a psychologist about children with autism, Ms. Chand Hakeem, a psychologist, is of the view that “autistic children can often struggle with adjusting to new environments and may experience communication difficulties depending on the stage of autism. They may have delayed language skills, delayed movement skills, and delayed cognitive or learning skills.”
She mentioned additionally, “Autistic Children need individual attention and can’t be taught under the formal education system. They need specialized attention and education to cater to their unique needs. If they are provided with tailored support and intervention, it will definitely enhance their development and overall well-being.”
According to doctors, ASD is basically a developmental disorder that affects an individual’s development in terms of communication and behavior. Although it can be diagnosed at any stage in life, the best diagnosis can be done in the first two years because most of the cases occur in this specific period.
People with ASD may have the following symptoms:
• Difficulty with relationships, interaction with others, and communication.
• Limited interests with a focus on specific areas intensively.
• Repetitive behaviors.
• Symptoms that conflict with the ability to act to a standard compatible with normal function in school or at work.
People with ASD are very uncomfortable when they are in social gatherings. It is quite challenging for them to talk to others; they can’t make eye contact and usually show gestures or facial expressions that seem weird. They mostly do not respond to what is said to them and struggle to understand what is said. They usually speak with an unusual tone and do not have the ability to express their feelings and emotions.
Ms. Ibtesam Ajmal, a certified Clinical Psychologist, and Psycho-Therapist from Peshawar shared her valuable perspective that “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), commonly called autism, is an inherited disorder. Autism means that the way you think and experience the world is different from most people. This is usually a behavior that is different from most people and has different strengths and difficulties. Autism is viewed as a spectrum because it has different characteristics for each autistic person. Some may need more support than others to live the life they want to lead.
People with autism have problems with communication and social skills. They often find it difficult to hold conversations and may not be aware of social cues. Some people with autism may not speak at all, and others may have no trouble speaking. All people with autism have some difficulty with social communication. People with autism also have limited interests or repetitive behaviors. A person with autism may not like changes in their schedule or accept changes. Although the medical community uses the term autism to refer to a disorder or disability, psychologists consider autistic people to be neurodiverse, meaning autism means otherness, not a disability.”
I share a personal experience of an ASD student whose mother insisted on keeping him at our school, but the teachers were unwilling to do so as they were having a difficult time because of this child. The child was unable to convey his message and ask about his needs. We had a counseling session with the mother and convinced her to send him to a special school. Although it was painful for the mother, the reality cannot be overlooked. Such children need special attention and tools. Children with autism thrive in an environment that is structured, predictable, and supportive. Creating a calm and sensory-friendly space, providing clear routines, and offering visual support can help them feel more comfortable and engaged. Additionally, promoting inclusivity, understanding, and acceptance within the environment is crucial for their social and emotional development.
It’s important to provide them with a structured and predictable environment to help them feel more comfortable. Utilizing visual supports, social stories, and gradual transitions can be helpful. Additionally, working with a therapist or specialist who specializes in autism can provide strategies and support to address these Autistic children can definitely show improvement and progress if they are cared for and provided special treatment.