Autism Is Different Not Less

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In this bustling world, there are a group of individuals lives in their very own glass castle with unique thinking to examine the outside. They are isolated and they only hear the voices within their own world. Their thinking patterns are different from ordinary people, no one would understand them as if they came from another planets. Hence, they are given a beautiful name – Children of the Stars (autistic children).

A person who do not like to communicate with others and love to be alone is the first impression of autism most of us would have. In fact, autism is a complex neurobehavioural condition that includes impairments in social interaction, developmental language and communication skills. It is a birth defect and no medicines and treatments available for this condition. In 2018, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Symptoms of autism include expressive language disorder, narrow interest and repetitive behaviour, aggressive behaviour, emotional instability, constant moving, extreme sensitivity to touch, light and sound, lack of coordination, etc.

While some Children of the Stars are silent, the others may be active and talkative. In this case, “like to talk” does not mean they know how to express themselves and understand other people. The failure to act in different types of social situations separate them from the world. Therefore, their parents are their important navigators who can lead them to discover the world.

For parents who are taking care of autistic children, they have to put more effort compare to others. Some of the autistic children unable to take care of themselves, therefore parents have to allocate more time teaching them, at the same time, learning to understand and communicate with them. In order to do this, most of the parents would need to quit their jobs, ensuring their children receive nothing less than the best. But, it could post a heavy financial burden to parents, especially with the high special education fee.

The film “Ocean Heaven” has portrayed the love of parents and how far parents would travel for their Children of the Stars. Jet Li who played a terminally ill father, attempt to teach his autistic son (played by Wen Zhang) the necessary life skills to survive on his own before he passes away. The film invites audiences to enter the world of children with autism and experience the hardship of the family.

Although Children of the Stars suffered from impaired verbal communication, some of them are gifted artists, painters, writers, musicians and maths geniuses. Their achievements often receive the highest compliment and awards.

April is National Autism Awareness Month and 2nd of April is World Autism Awareness Day. Many activities will be held around the world to raise public awareness for caring about autism and supporting the autistic children and their families.

Symptoms of Autistic Children
Expressive language disorder: Difficulty in conveying or expressing information by using language include do not know how to speak, cannot speak clearly and speech disorder. Some of them are able to speak normally but fail to express what they think.
Narrow interest and repetitive behaviour: Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity of focus. Some may have a very strong interest in one or more special topics. They will repeat their same behavior continuously in a certain period of time, for instance, clapping the hands.
Emotional instability: Screaming and yelling, jumping, attack people, self-injurious behaviour due to their requirements are unsatisfied or external stimulus.
Extreme sensitivity to touch, light and sound: Uncomfortable with touch, light and sound. Because of their sensitivity, some of them have good achievements in particular fields, for instance, music.

How to Help Autistic Children?
Concise communication: Use simple words and repeat it if necessary.
Visual teaching: Provide visual description while teaching.
Change their abnormal behaviour gradually through teaching.
Observe their interests and discover their talents. They can be a gifted painter, musician, maths genius, etc.
Try to understand their emotional factors, for instance, uncomfortable with touch, light and sound.