SPRING HILL, FL – A current psychological headline read there has been an 52% spike in autism since 2017. This means one in 30 children has been diagnosed and put on the “autistic spectrum.” This disorder is increasing at an alarming rate with no immediate end in sight.
According to the research autistic deficiencies in social interaction can be substantially changed in the early childhood years. A child with a blank countenance and little eye contact can be taught to become more expressive. Many children that exhibit repetitive ritualistic behavior can gain more imaginative behavior. Others can surprisingly expand their interests into more varied endeavors. These new interests of young children are usually spontaneous without any intervention. It is like an orchid that stays in the state of hibernation then suddenly comes to life.
Nearly 30% of children diagnosed with autistic syndrome disorder develop appropriate social communications and interactional skills by age six. These children were delayed in various skills and abilities. It is found five times more often in boys than in girls. When young female children are diagnosed with this disorder, they have fewer symptoms with less intensity in those symptoms than the boys. Girls are less inclined to be delayed in developing social communication and interpersonal skills. Boys are obviously prone to have more autistic deficits than girls.
ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is not a death sentence. It can often be corrected with changes in the child’s daily life. The USA has been altered radically over the past few decades. Many mothers have entered the labor market. Marriages are less stable often with the father being the one to have limited rights of custody or be involved daily with their offspring.
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Authority figures in our current culture are not exerting their power and insist that children under their supervision follow appropriate and correct behavior.
The breakup of the traditional family unit has been well documented as having a negative impact on many children. When children have less time with their parents much of the loving instruction and lifelong lessons are lost. Parents should work as a team and often the child may be able to manipulate each parent individually. The inconsistent visits and positive attention often affect the children uniquely.
Sometimes the resentment of the young child towards their parent’s absence is seen in their lack of reaction to the parent. Children often strike back at their parent’s behavior by shutting down their compliance to the parents’ directives or worse, regress into a more infantile state. To a mental health professional this regressive state can be misconstrued as a developmental delay rather than a reaction to the parents’ lack of loving attention to the youngster when the child needs and demands it.
If a young child’s lack of appropriate social communication and interactional skills is not a genetic defect or chemical imbalance but instead is often caused by a lack of a loving, nurturing environment, the approach to remediate this disorder has to be revised.
We know some children labeled with ASD improve with no specific intervention and other children have outgrown the ASD behaviors. This would indicate that many parents and other loved ones, family members and friends, should be encouraged to reinforce positive behaviors when the child exhibits them. In other words, these loved ones should be unleashed to give the child loving attention and encourage the child in a gentle manner to be aware that what they did should be repeated.
“Thank you for paying attention by looking into my eyes.”
“I love your smile.”
“You said it already, you do not have to repeat it.”
“You have improved in learning how to catch a ball.”
Probably the most dramatic impact would be if the parent instructs their youngster in appropriate mannerisms. Young children cannot easily express themselves well although the body language cues can be powerful indicators of how to enter the child ‘s world. Once in the child’s world, a loving parent can already teach simple verbal games for the child’s development. These games should be easy and joyful to make a connection that will grow in time. The more intimate the relationship between the person and the child, and the stronger and lasting the interaction between them, the greater will be the impact and improvement.
None of these recommendations mentioned here were scientifically verified. However, a more shocking fact in the bible of mental health providers, the DSM5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Five), many of these same behaviors are listed as indicators of the ASD spectrum. At the end of the list of inappropriate behaviors the manual states “any individual could have some or none of these symptoms. Keep in mind that having these symptoms does not necessarily mean a person has autism. Only a qualified medical professional can diagnose autistic spectrum disorder.”
This definition of ASD is unable to pass the scientific “smell” test.