World Autism Awareness Day (2nd April, 2019)

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Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism affects different people in a different manner. There are three types of autism;

  1. Autistic Disorder (Classic autism)
  2. Asperger Syndrome.
  3. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) also called autism spectrum disorder

Children may depict the following characteristics if they are Autistic;

  • Unusual speech patterns,
  • Avoiding eye contact with others
  • Not babbling or cooing to parents as an infant
  • Not responding to their name when called
  • Late development of speech skills
  • Having difficulty maintaining conversation
  • Frequently repeating phrases
  • Difficulty in understanding and expressing their feelings
  • Tendency to become intensely fixated on a topic or thing that it seems to consume them.
  • Engaging in repetitive motions, such as rocking side to side/back & forth
  • Tendency to compulsively line up or arrange items or objects in very orderly ways

The real cause of Autism has not been clearly established; though it is often believed that it could potentially result from – genetics inheritance, premature birth, children sired from older fathers, exposure of the child to adverse environmental conditions in the womb such as hormones, metals such as lead, harmful pesticides and chemicals.

There is no cure for Autism yet. Though the use of some of these suggested methods have proved to have cured some patients

  • Use of responsive therapies lead to better outcomes than directive therapies.
  • Change of diet
  • Medications that can help some people with related symptoms, e.g., medication might help manage high energy levels, inability to focus, depression, or seizures.

The disorders affect approximately 4% of the Kenyan population. (Autism Society of Kenya, 2007). There are organizations in Kenya that support children who are Autistic and parent who have autistics children. These include

  • Autism Support Center (Kenya), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the social economic lives of those living in the autism spectrum in Kenya.
  • Autism society of Kenya

Compiled by Grace C. Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library