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Autism

Introduction

Autism is a life-long disorder of development which affects the way a child thinks and processes information. It affects 1-2 children out of 1000 and is 4 times more frequent in boys. Symptoms are usually present before the age of 3 years but may not be recognized.

The main affected areas in autism are :

  • Communication
  • Social Interaction
  • Repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities

Autism is considered part of a group of disorders called Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Another disorder from this group is Asperger’s Syndrome where the child’s language development and cognitive skills may be normal.

No single cause of autism has been found but some of the possible causes may be genetic factors and chemical imbalance in the brain. Mental retardation may be present in 75% of autistic children.

Signs & symptoms

The signs and symptoms are apparent in the 3 main affected areas :

Communication

  • Delayed, abnormal or no speech
  • Abnormal non verbal communication e.g. not gesturing much
  • Inability to pretend during play
  • Inability to have conversation with others

Social Interaction

  • Poor eye contact and lack of facial expression
  • Unawareness of feelings of others
  • Self-preoccupation without sharing experiences with others
  • Playing on their own
  • Inability to make friends

Repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities

  • Repeated body movements e.g. hand flapping, rocking back and forth, head banging
  • Preoccupation with parts of objects e.g. wheels of a toy car
  • Distress over small changes in environment.
  • Insistence on following routines rigidly
  • Having only one or two areas of interest.

Complications

Persons with autism may present with different symptoms at different ages.

  • Early 1 childhood – hyperactivity, temper tantrums
  • Late childhood – aggressiveness, self harm
  • Adolescence and adulthood – depression, epilepsy

Treatment

Input from various professionals is needed to :

  • Improve social skills
  • Encourage more socially acceptable behaviour
  • Develop verbal and non verbal communication
  • Help families cope

There is no medication that cures autism but drugs for some symptoms that occur with autism e.g. :

  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Hyperactivity
  • Anxiety may be available

Rehabilitation

Modalities of intervention include :

  • Speech and language therapy
    • To improve the child’s communication
  • Occupational therapy
    • To improve social skills e.g. eye contact, attention and concentration and to help with the child?s activities of daily living.
    • Multi sensory stimulation (hyperlink)
  • Behaviour intervention(to hyperlink later)
    • To decrease temper tantrums and aggressive behaviour
  • Special Education
    • Autistic children need to be registered with Dept. of Special Education, Ministry of Education so that their educational needs can be catered for. The forms can be obtained from the nearest education department or school. There are also non-government organizations which provide education for autistic children e.g. National Autistic Society of Malaysia(NASOM).
  • Disability registration
    • Children with autism can be registered with the Dept. of Social Welfare by obtaining forms from the nearest Welfare Dept.

Support groups

NASOM Centres addresses and contact numbers

NO
CENTRE
TELEFON / FAX
Supervisor/ Coordinator
1 PUSAT PENDIDIKAN AUTISME KUALA LUMPUR No 4 Jalan Chan Chin Mooi, Off Jalan Pahang, 53200 Kuala Lumpur No 2 Jalan 7/18 B Taman Batu Permai Off Jalan Ipoh, 51200 Kuala Lumpur Tel: 03-40223744 Fax: 03-40254495 Email:nasom@streamyx.com Pn. Liew Yoon Loy (Executive Director NASOM) Cik Hasliza Abd Hamid Pn. Gerdir Kaur
2 PUSAT PENDIDIKAN AUTISME PETALING JAYA No. 10 Jalan Mewah 6/9 Seksyen 6 Petaling Jaya Selangor Darul Ehsan Tel : 03-77816981 Pn. Zaleha Jaalan
3 PUSAT PENDIDIKAN AUTISME KLANG No 5 Lorong Sepat 2 Taman Bertek, Teluk Pulai 41300 Klang, Selangor Darul Ehsan Tel: 03-33732991 Fax:03-33732991 Email: ppaklang@tm.net.my Cik Rageswary Karuppiah
4 PUSAT PENDIDIKAN AUTISME IPOH No 2 Persiaran Cempaka sari 9 Taman Cempaka 31400 Ipoh, Perak Darul Ridzuan Tel:05-5483570 Fax:05-5483570 Cik Ann Chung Foong Leng
5 PUSAT PENDIDIKAN AUTISME SEREMBAN No 153 Lorong Pinang gading, Taman Pinang Gading, 70400 Seremban Negeri Sembilan Tel: 06-7674400 Fax06-7674400 Puan Ratnam
6. PUSAT PENDIDIKAN AUTISME PENANG No 32-34 Jalan Pantai Jerjak (1) 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang Tel: 04-6587034 Fax:04-6587034 Cik R. Gengespari
7. PUSAT PENDIDIKAN AUTISME BUTTERWORTH No 8 Lorong Molek 3 Bagan Ajam 13000 Butterworth, Pulau Pinang Tel: 04-3238792 Fax: 04-3238792 Pn. Rusmawati Abdullah
8 PUSAT PENDIDIKAN AUTISME MELAKA Bistari Negeri Melaka No 48 Jalan Bukit Peringgit 75400 Peringgit, Melaka Tel: 06-2882518 Pn. Norhaya Sulaiman
9. PUSAT PENDIDIKAN AUTISME KANGAR No 18 Taman Sentua 01000 Kangar, Perlis   Puan Maslinda Ishak
10 PUSAT LATIHAN VOKASIONAL KUALA LUMPUR 6-4 Blok A Jalan 2/114 Kuchai Lama Business Centre Jalan Kuchai Lama, 58200 Kuala Lumpur Tel: 03-79843942 Puan Kamariah Majid
11 PUSAT LATIHAN VOKASIONAL/ASRAMA NASOM D/a Bengkel Daya KM 4 Jalan Batu Unjur Persiaran Tengku Ampaun Rahimah 41200 Klang, Selangor    

The Association of Resources and Education for Autistic Children
184 Jalan Bunga Cempaka Off Jalan Yeap Chor Ee,
11700 Bukit Gelugor,
Penang Malaysia
Tel: ++6 046564357
Fax: ++6 04-6578315
Email: lrcac @pd.jaring.my

Last Reviewed : 23 July 2008
Writer : Dr. Eni Rahaiza binti Muhamed Ramli