St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The earlier a child is tested for autism, the sooner corrective measures can be taken making them more effective says Clarice Cotton, former Principal of the Cotton-Thomas School for Children with Special Needs.
On WINN FM’s Breakfast Show on Monday (April 10), Ms. Cotton encouraged parents and teachers who suspected children of having Autism to get them tested.
“We encourage parents to get their children tested early because sometimes the problem may be something that can be corrected, because there are some children who have developmental delays. You would talk to some parents and say when did he or she start speaking and some would say my first child walked when he was 10 months and the second one didn’t walk until he was over a year and so sometimes it’s nothing, but if you seek testing you can find out where the delay is, sometimes it can be corrected early and the child can go on to live a full and regular life.”
Ms. Cotton explained that it was possible for people with autism to achieve some level of independence. The key, she said, was to encourage them to make choices while they were young.
“If the people in their lives, teachers and parents, can teach them at an early age to make choices for example his clothes, what do you want to wear today and you give them a choice, they are making the choice. It could be with eating and other simple things and the child learns from an early age that he can make choices and it starts with little things but it goes on later in life. Some persons with autism may have a harder time in making choices and they may need some help making those choices, but we are encouraged to give them choices daily.”
Ms. Cotton added that like any other child, interacting with others in their peer group was very important.
“It’s very important that they learn to socialize and they have opportunities to be with others. In today’s world we hear a lot about inclusion where persons are encouraged to give persons with disabilities and persons with autism the chance to attend regular schools, play in games with other children on the playing field and just be included in every aspect of life.”
In a resolution adopted by the United Nations to mark World Autism Day which is observed on April 2 annually, autism is described as a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life. It goes on to state that it is the result a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain and is characterized by impairments in social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted, repetitive behaviour, interests and activities.