Autism is a severe developmental disorder of a neuropsychiatric nature, the central disorder within a whole spectrum of neuropsychiatric and developmental disorders known as the spectrum of autism/autistic disorders (ASD).
The term “spectrum” reflects the range of difficulties and particularities of autistic disorders: difficulties in developing social skills, receptive and expressive language, repetitive behaviors, stereotypes that manifest differently from one child to another. Autism has several forms of manifestation caused by different combinations between genetic and external, environmental factors. But the specific causes still remain unknown.
In Romania, there is no national report on the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, but estimates suggest that there are more than 30,000 minors who fall into this category. Worldwide, the most recent study on this disorder shows that one in 68 children has autism. The disorder is more common in boys (1 in 46), only one in 84 girls suffer from autism.
ATCA specialists are based on international studies and indicate that the detection of disorders in the autistic spectrum can be done after 18-24 months, but the first signs can be observed from the age of 10 months and up to one year of age.
“The chances of recovery increase significantly when the therapy starts at an early age,” said Anca Dumitrescu, president of ATCA and the first internationally accredited Romanian specialist in ABA therapy.
The therapeutic recovery with the best scientifically proven results is ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis). Its success depends on 4 major factors:
– the level of severity of the condition,
– the age of the child upon entering the program,
– degree of family involvement,
– the experience of the team of therapists and the coordinator who works with the little one.
The therapy program varies between 2 hours and 6-8 hours/day depending on the severity of the condition.
“Until diagnosis, parents play an essential role in early identification of any sign of autism spectrum disorder. At the first suspicions, adults must continue to observe the child to see if certain factors are combined, and if the answer is positive, it is advisable to go with the little one to a specialized center for diagnosis. If, following that assessment, the child is diagnosed as suffering from autism, the recovery program will begin, and the family must continue to stimulate the skills developed by the little one during the therapy”, added the therapist Anca Dumitrescu.
The results of some international research following the application of ABA in the case of children with autism spectrum disorder show that if the therapy is started from the age of 2 or even earlier, if it is intensive (20-30 hours/week) and if it is carried out without interruption for at least 2 years increases the chances of recovery.
Among the 2-year-old children who participate in the therapy sessions, 20-30% will be completely independent, and the symptoms of autism disappear, and 20-30% will be independent and have a normal life, but will require guidance and counseling, because they will have some difficulties in adapting to different social situations, strange behaviors, difficulties in communication and maintaining relationships with others. Also, 50% of children with autism will become adults who need support from the family.