Autism spectrum disorder testing is being launched in 4 polyclinics in Nizhny Novgorod.
Photo by Alexander Volozhanin Children of the rain. A unique project for the prevention of autism starts in the region In Nizhny Novgorod, children from one and a half to two and a half years old will be screened for autistic disorders. Experts are sounding the alarm: the number of babies with such diagnoses is growing exponentially. Only in the Nizhny Novgorod region every year there are 20-30 percent more children with such disorders. And in ten years, as experts predict, they can be detected in every second child.
So why has autism become “the disease of our century” and how can we help children and parents who are confronted with this diagnosis?
The sooner the better
Until the age of six, Ksenia developed like all children. The girl spoke early, but in a little over a year, speech suddenly disappeared. Parents drew attention to other features that distinguished her from her peers: the child avoided contact with other children, reluctantly walked into her arms, did not show interest in toys.
We met Ksyusha and her mother at the Dobry Sad Center for Long-Term Rehabilitation of Children, established in 2016 on the basis of the Nizhny Novgorod pediatric clinic. It provides medical, psychological and pedagogical assistance to children with autism spectrum disorder and delayed psychomotor development. Ksyusha has been studying here for only the fourth month, but there are already certain successes.
Dobryi Sad is designed for 30 "special" pupils who are brought here as in a kindergarten at 9 am and taken away five hours later. All this time, a variety of specialists have been working with them - teachers, speech therapists, psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists. Each group has no more than six kids, and each has its own difficult story.
Since January, four polyclinics in Nizhny Novgorod have started testing kids for autism spectrum disorder.
Eight-year-old Irina is a "silent" since birth. She has been coming here for two years, and, according to her mother Elena, progress is evident: the girl has ceased to be afraid of other children, has learned to eat and dress on her own. True, if they began to study earlier, the list of achievements would be even wider. But there is hope for the appearance of speech.
In general, making a diagnosis on time is a real problem.
“The first time we noticed that a child differs from his peers when he was one and a half years old,” says Ekaterina, mother of five-year-old Dima. - He blinked strangely, walked on tiptoe, did not react to the appeal to him. But the therapist and neurologist in our clinic felt that they just had to wait and everything would be fine. However, there was no improvement. They came back six months later, and again they told us that there was no cause for concern. Then we started looking for a good neurologist ourselves. And only by the age of three, the son was finally diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. We missed so much time. After all, we could have started studying with him much earlier.
A child with autism can appear in any family, regardless of social and material status. The reasons for its occurrence have not yet been fully understood. It is impossible to identify such a disorder before the birth of a child, during pregnancy, by any tests, as well as to cure it later.
World statistics show that the incidence of autism is 66 percent higher among children born to fathers over 50, and 28 percent higher if their fathers are 40-50 years old. This is probably due to the accumulation of genetic breakdowns with age.
An autistic child may be highly intelligent, even show genius abilities in creativity or science, but at the same time may not have the simplest everyday and social skills. This condition can be corrected using special techniques. This will give the child the opportunity to live in society, study and get a profession.
Lost my temper
Most of the guys who come here for the first time do not know how to eat, dress, play with their peers on their own, they are afraid of a large space. After a few months of classes, the kids are dramatically changing for the better - they can serve themselves, communicate with each other, new words appear in their speech.
“Many have a difficult relationship with food, in which they are very selective: someone eats only one type of porridge or soup, someone generally bread or apples,” says the center's teacher Natalya Kofanova. “The efforts of various specialists help to solve even this problem; they have breakfast and lunch at the center.
In addition to everyday skills, children are successfully taught creative skills.
“We have a lot of different classes: music, art therapy, movement therapy, physiotherapy, massage, classes with a neuropsychologist, a defectologist,” continues Natalya Kofanova. - Previously, such children, at best, could take a course in a special school, then a home for the disabled was waiting for them. Now they have the opportunity to study later in a regular school, albeit in a correctional class, to get a profession. And several of our children later began to attend ordinary kindergartens and schools.
According to Oksana Balandina, head of the Dobry Sad Center for Long-Term Rehabilitation of Children, autism spectrum disorders have many forms - from mild, which are perceived as character traits, to very severe.
“Among these children there are also very talented ones, the main thing is to help them adjust their characteristics,” she explains. - Only a specialist can determine whether a child needs rehabilitation assistance.
In the language of numbers
556 young people from Nizhny Novgorod have autism spectrum disorder. Of these, 108 children were diagnosed in 2017.
Boys have an autism spectrum disorder four times more often than girls.
The most important condition for successful correction is early diagnosis of autism. According to Nikolai Karjakin, the rector of Privolzhsky Medical University, the most effective period for rehabilitation is from one and a half to three years.
“It’s one thing if you started to study with a child according to special methods at the age of one and a half, and another if the diagnosis was made after five years,” he explains. “But even in this case, it is possible to improve the interaction of the“special”child with society.
It is for this purpose that the Ministry of Health of the Nizhny Novgorod Region and the University Center for Psychology and Child Development of Privolzhsky Research Medical University have launched a pilot project on early detection of autism in children aged 1.5-2.5 years. The project also aims to train pediatricians to recognize Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The identified children with autism will be sent to the Dobry Sad rehabilitation center.
“This wonderful center is very important not only for the Nizhny Novgorod region, but also for the Russian Federation,” said Andrey Gneushev, Deputy Governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Region. - Thanks to the work of specialists, children with autism spectrum disorder will subsequently be able to go to regular kindergarten and school. A huge experience of such work has been accumulated here, which can be extended to other territories of the country.
By the way, the center accepts not only little Nizhny Novgorod residents - children from all over Russia are brought here for rehabilitation, because the pediatric institute has federal status.
If the pilot project is successful, it will be extended to all children's polyclinics in the region.
When should parents be alert?
Child does not babble at 12 months;
By the time he was 14-16 months old, not a single word had appeared;
Disappearance of an already existing speech after a year;
The child does not make eye contact;
Doesn't want to hug and sit on her arms;
Protests against playing with other children;
Monotonous repetitive movements, long concentration on one action.