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Parenting Corner - Adults with Autism

There is plenty written about parenting a child with autism but not enough about adults with the disorder. Research too tends to be tilted in favour of parenting children with the condition and there's a need to address the lack of information and stigma that ageing parents with children with autism grapple with.

One of the main reasons for the lack of information available about adults with autism is that most of the people who want to know are parents themselves. The struggle of raising their kids and the stigma comes in the way of seeking support or sharing information. Fortunately that is changing in India.

Chennai parent Ranjani Chandrasegar, a member of the well-known parent support group Special Child Assistance Network (SCAN) finds that most adults with autism tend to have anxiety and depression issues if they miss out on diagnoses at the appropriate age.

There used be a shortage of awareness about autism earlier and many children would miss out on a proper diagnoses. Since these kids are not treated as children with autism, their behaviour is very often misunderstood causing them to grow up to be adults with aggressive nature or with lot of anxiety and emotional issues. - Ranjani Chandrasegar, Member, Special Child Assistance Network

Children with autism grow up and have the same challenges. Here are a few things to consider.

  1. Children with autism can grow up to be functional adults and learn coping strategies that help them lead their adult lives.

  2. In some cases, children with autism may grow up with intellectual disabilities and need the guidance and support to overcome challenges.

  3. Like children, adults with autism are uniquely different from each other. While some get employed and work in various fields, others remain dependent and need a sheltered life.

  4. The same holds true in case of relationships. Some adults with autism find it hard to bond with others and form deep relations while others may have successful partnerships, even be successfully married.

  5. There are many adults with autism who lead a successful life and despite challenges, and excel in their respective fields, such as an actors Dan Akroyd and Darryl Hannah and singer Susan Boyle.Having said that, not every adult with autism should be expected to outperform and excel as everyone is different.

  6. In case of many adults with autism who were never diagnosed in childhood, the condition may remain unnoticed like an invisible challenge.

  7. Around 25% to 30% of adults are non-verbal, and they are unable to use spoken language to communicate.

  8. While some adults with autism may be 'high functioning individuals' and on the surface these people will seem to be coping well in life but they may still face issues such as anxiety, sensory problems, and social/communication barriers.

  9. For adults there is no standard diagnostic test available yet. However, evaluation with doctors and experts can result in diagnoses through interactions and observations. ASD diagnoses can help a person understand themselves and the reason behind their own limitations. The information can aid in learning coping skills and strategies to do better and beat the barriers.

  10. People who are diagnosed with ASD in adulthood can find a lot of comfort and help from support groups, they can also opt for medications and treatments for symptoms like anxiety, depression, and behavioural issues.

Pritam Sinha, a Bengaluru parent, has been researching into the causes of autism and ways to tackle the growing numbers. He states that healthy lifestyle changes are effective along with a holistic approach to treatment and care.

"It can be done by holistic approach, integrated yoga, ayurveda, naturopathy, yogic diet, fermented millets, native cow milk which is Type 2 of cassin, marma massage or craniosacral therapy or osteopathic intervention, horticulture, classical Music, drama, classical dance, musical instruments and most importantly aura cleansing with pranic healing."

Autism is known to effect one in every 59 births making it a common medical condition. Society can provide a nurturing and barrier free environment to people with autism by promoting awareness and acceptance.

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