Autism Society Manitoba.
Autism Society Manitoba Inc. (ASM) has provided this guide to new parents to offer information on their child's disorder and on services available in Manitoba. Welcoming someone into the world of autism/Pervasive Developmental Disorders (A/PDD) seems an odd greeting, but if you know or are involved with someone who has received a diagnosis of autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), then this welcome, and package, is for you.
ASM maintains an office located in the Clearinghouse for Manitobans Concerning Disabilities, situated at 825 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg. At present, the office is periodically staffed by volunteers. However, messages can be left at 783-9563 (answering machine) or 786-0860 (fax), and someone from ASM will get back to you as soon as possible.
Table of Contents * Goals * Services * Advocacy * Rural Outreach * parent Network System * Parent Support Groups * Conferences and Workshops * Library * Newsletter * Social Other documents * A Parent's Guide to Autism/PDD * Letters from Parents * Diagnostic Criteria for Autism/PDD * Community Services Directory * Education * Manitoba Child Daycare; Children with Disabilities Program * Autism Outreach * Pre-School Consultation Program * The Role of the Occupational Therapist * The Role of the Speech-Language Pathologist * Siblings: Another Parental Concern
From "Autism Society Manitoba Information Package", April 1997.
ASM Pamplet on Autism
What is Autism?
* Autism is a severely incapacitating life-long disability, which typically appear during the first 3 years of life. The person affected has extreme difficulty communicating, and relating to others in an effective manner. The ability to think logically and to accurately process information from the environment is impaired.
* Autism is no a common disorder. Surveys reveal an incidence of about 4 to 5 in every 10,000 children. In Manitoba it is estimated that there are approximately 450 autistic children.
* Autism is 4 times more common in boys than girls.
* Autistic people can be healthy, attractive, and physically well developed, and may live a normal life span.
* Autism has been found throughout the world in families of all racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds.
* Approximately 25% are of average or near average intellectual ability. A small percentage of these persons have extra-ordinary abilities in certain areas such as fantastic memory and recall. Others have normal development of motor skills, but slow intellectual development. The most handicapped group, compromising approximately 75% have delays intellectual development.
What Causes Autism?
* The exact cause of autism is unknown, but the syndrome is believed to be caused by an (as yet undetermined) underlying physical dysfunction within the brain or central nervous system.
* No known factors in the psychological environment of the child have been shown to cause autism.
What are the Characteristics of Autism?
* Autistic children are not all the same. Each child has his own personality which determines the way in which he reacts to his handicap and each child has a different level of intelligence which affects his ability to learn. Not all the characteristics are evident throughout the individual's entire life-span.
* Relationship Problems: - Autistic people have difficulty forming relationships. They appear indifferent and unresponsive to people and surroundings and may use objects inappropriately.
* Communication Difficulties: - Approximately 50% of autistic people never speak. Others say and repeat words but may not use speech effectively to communicate. When speech does develop, the pronounciation may be poor and the words sound flat and fail to convey emotion. Expressing ideas and feelings often are especially difficult functions.
* Emotional Reactions: - Some of these children show almost no emotions, others may laugh or smile, cry or go into tantrums for no apparent reason. They may be extremely fearful or show no sense of fear at all.
* Unusual Responses to Sensations: - There may be a generalized over or under responsiveness to sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste, pain, balance and body position. Autistic children often seem to get much satisfaction from their senses - smelling new objects, running their hands or tongues over rough or smooth surfaces. Some children recoil at being touched in certain areas of the body. Others seek out physical stimulation and engage in self-stimulating activities like rocking, twirling, and hand-flapping. Some children don't feel pain and self-injurious behaviour's such as their pulling, biting, or hitting parts of the body may be present. Eating difficulties are common; autistic children seem sensitive to various food textures.
* Resistence to Change: - Any change in routine, in the objects they are used to, even how objects are arranged in a room may upset these children tremendously.
What is the Prognosis?
* There is no known treatment available which alters the course of the disorder. Recent studies indicate that the incidence of EEG abnormalities increases with age as does the possible onset of seizures.
* There is increasing evidence that autistic children benefit from special education. Through specialized teaching the autistic child can be helped to understand and use words and gestures, though many will never be able to cope fully with the abstractions of language. The earlier and longer an autistic child receives appropriate education the more likely he/she is to remain in the community.
* Employment is possible for some. Favourable job situations ar ethose which offer a predictable routine, contact with a limited number of people and an employer who is willing to exercise personal guidance and control when needed.
What is Needed?
* Diagnostic and Assessment Services: - To identify autistic children as early as possible, more special centres are needed where all required testing and observation with trained staff would be readily available.
* Guidance to Families: - Families are most closely involved. They have to cope with a series of practical as well as emotional problems while they struggle to understand, accept and adjust to their chronically handicapped child. Counselling services and training programs for parents and siblings are desirable. Trained child care workers are needed to relieve parents.
* Community Facilities: - Special programs at all levels of education in academic, social, physical and recreational skills are needed. For older autistic children and adults there must be alternative living arrangements and job opportunites in the community.
* Research: - The cause of autism is unknown and further research is needed to provide us with answers to many remaining questions.
* Diagnosis and Assessment-Manitoba: - In Manitoba, the Child Development Clinic (located at the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg) is where many children with developmental problems, including autism, are referred. A team of doctors will provide a diagnosis on the basis of developmental assessments and observation for children 0-7 years of age.
* AUTISM SOCIETY MANITOBA INC. (A.S.M.) seeks to promote a greater understanding about autism. It is a non-profit organization made up of parents, professionals, and other interested citizens working together in the promotino of legislation, education, recreation, social relief and research programs that will benefit all autistic citizens.
* YOU, too, can help by showing understanding and acceptance of the autistic person in YOUR community.
For further information on autism, a speaker on the topic, programs or services available; or if you wish to impart some information to A.S.M. please contact the Autism Society Manitoba
From 1996 Autism Society Manitoba pamphlet
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Last updated: February 03, 2000.