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What is non-verbal autism? Here are signs, causes and how to cope

In case of Non-Verbal Autism, kids should to trained to speak or should be trained in a communication system before the age of five. Studies indicate that the chances of speaking are considerably low beyond that age.

Published: November 27, 2019 3:36:09 pm
parenting tips, autism spectrum disorder Non-Verbal Autism causes speech and communication-related issues. (Source: Thinkstock/Getty)

By Dr Nusra Surangiwala

Development disorders in the foetus can cause severe complications in the growth and independent functioning of the child. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)  is one such condition related to brain development that causes difficulties with socialisation, interaction and communication skills.  This condition can cause children to struggle in leading an independent life. They require constant supervision of their caregiver or family members , even for simple activities. This affects the quality of life of the patients and their family.

The cure for autism is still under research with no concentre remedy yet. Autism could be of different types.  Non-Verbal Autism is a type of ASD that causes speech and communication-related issues. The children affected by this disorder struggle to develop speech related skills and do not have the ability to talk in any known language. There is a clear difference between this condition and other neurological disorders where children with special needs take longer to speak than others. Kids with non-verbal autism do not speak at all or do not talk more than a few incomprehensible syllables. The right guidance helps parents to seek immediate medical or therapeutic help and handle this condition.

What are the symptoms of Non-Verbal Autism?

The symptoms of any condition are crucial and provide information about the nature of the condition. The primary symptom is an inability to speak and communicate.  Apraxia of speech may be present  in which the brain sends  vital signals  to speech muscles, but the muscles do not respond to these signals. This causes frustration, which children often express through inappropriate behaviours including aggression, anger, tantrums or withdrawal.

What causes this disorder?

The causes of ASD and Non-Verbal Autism are quite similar. If parents are aware of these causes, necessary precautions can be taken right from the foetal stage. Some of the common reasons include older parents, toxic exposure, genetic traits, premature birth, metabolic imbalance, etc.

What are the early signs?

Babies require constant attention from their parents. Sometimes, the parents may overlook certain signs as developmental delays. Developmental delay is a condition where certain children take longer than their peers to develop motor or speech milestones. However, the early signs of Non Verbal Autism are different from these signs. The children are expected to follow a developmental pattern right from the day of their birth. Though a certain period lapse is reasonable, it is advisable to consult a doctor, if delay persists for an extended period. Early signs include lack of eye contact, no social smile, lack of speech, impaired response to stimuli (hyporesponsive) or sensory seeking.

How can parents handle the issue?

Parenthood is not an easy task, especially for the first child. In the era of joint families, the elders provided the necessary guidance to raise children. Today, external support is required to assist them in the process. There are various stages involved while handling the needs of the special child. It is essential to follow them diligently for the welfare of the kid in the present and the future. There are experts who can provide the necessary guidance and thus help parents manage these kids effectively. These include Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Behaviour Therapists.

Time is a crucial factor while taking care of children with special needs. It is highly challenging to accustom children to practice skills after a certain age. In case of Non-Verbal Autism, kids should to trained to speak or should be trained in a communication system before the age of five. It is relatively easier and practical to impart this knowledge at this age. Studies indicate that the chances of speaking are considerably low beyond that age. Non-Verbal Autism can be a challenging condition for the kids and their parents. However, it can be effectively managed with the right treatment plan.

(The writer is Centre Head, Mom’s Belief Building Bridges, Byculla , Mumbai.)

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