Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
In Singapore, 1% of the population is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and it has been on a rising trend since 2016. The rising trend is also attributed to the advancement of techniques in observing the presence and severity of the disorder, especially in females and increased awareness of ASD in the general public.
What is ASD?
ASD is a term used for a group of various neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, etc. Individuals suffering from ASD display symptoms in varying degrees where some are completely unable to function cognitively and some are functioning perfectly well. The cause of ASD is still widely researched on but are linked to defects in genes or problems during stages of neurodevelopment.
Signs and symptoms of ASD
- Delayed or abnormal expressive language/ feelings
- Difficulties understanding simple commands
- Inability to sustain a conversation
- Troubles maintaining eye contact
- Inability to interpret body language, facial expressions or tones of voice
- Increase/ decrease in sensory inputs
- Struggles maintaining friendships
- Exhibit antisocial/disruptive behaviour
- Behavioural impairment (repetitive behaviour/ echolalia/ hand flapping)
Treatment for ASD
ASD cannot be cured, but medication is available to reduce anxiety, hyperactivity or aggressiveness that individuals with ASD may display. Therapies is also available to improve and reduce digression of skills such as:
- Motor skills (e.g. Art Therapy, Physiotherapy)
- Cognitive skills (e.g. counting money, doing puzzles)
- Speech and language (e.g. Phonics lessons, Speech Therapy)
- Psychosocial skills (e.g. Involvement in support groups and clubs)
There are many programmes and organisations introduced in Singapore (e.g. Autism Resource Centre, Autism Association) that provide structured teaching programmes (e.g. TEACCH, Floortime, Applied Behavioural Analysis) to support individuals with ASD and increase their quality of life. Some therapists may use music (iLs program) and sensory items (Sensory integration therapy) to help children improve social interaction and speaking.
Special schools for ASD
Such schools have teachers and curriculum that are specialised and catered to those with special needs and go at a slower pace for better learning.
- Pathlight School
- Rainbow Centre
- Eden School
- St. Andrew’s Autism Centre
If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” - Ignacio Estrada.
Case study of Maggie with ASD
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