Autism, or autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), are a group of developmental disabilities that can adversely affect how one communicates and interacts with others. Globally, the prevalence of ASDs stands at 1%. As for Singapore, there are about 400 new cases diagnosed annually.
While there are no definite causes of autism there are various risk factors which could increase one’s chances of having autism. These include genetics and environmental factors that can impact early brain development. Whether it is a child or adult that suffers from ASD, the overall effects can often extend beyond just the individual to the family unit and society at large.
However, such individuals can still function well in day-to-day life as they would have constructed unique coping mechanisms to help them adapt to the world. However, their behaviour may become more problematic in old age due to the natural deterioration of mental and physical capabilities.
Autism Symptoms and Signs
A person with autism spectrum disorders may display the following symptoms:
Individuals may experience difficulties in understanding and processing instructions and conversations. They may also face problems expressing themselves. Thus, they may only respond after some delay or communicate using unusual forms of expression, gestures or speech.
- Social interaction
There is a distinct lack of interest in interacting with others. If there is, it may appear strange with poor response to physical stimuli, affection or lack of eye contact. Individuals may also prefer to entertain themselves and have difficulty with roleplay or imaginative activities.
- Repetitive behaviours or restricted interests
Repetitive behaviours like hand flapping or clenching which may not make sense to others, might be seen. Those with autism spectrum disorders may also display an extreme obsession with certain interests, objects and activities.
Treatment Options for Autism
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition. However, that does not mean that all hope is lost. With time and effort, we can look to improve the functional abilities of those with the condition.
Following a formal diagnosis, people with autism, and their family, will have a better understanding of the condition and the potential needs that may arise. This way, proper care, services, and support can be arranged. Certain medications can be used to prevent violent or self-harming behaviour, or reduce anxiety and hyperactivity.
Autism in the Elderly
When it comes to the elderly, there is an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety for those suffering with autism spectrum disorders. They also run the risk of developing epilepsy, hearing impairments, vision problems, cardiovascular problems, sleep disorders, and metabolic issues among others.
Additionally, despite the number of years spent living with the disorder and the coping mechanisms which have been developed over time, autistic seniors are still at risk of displaying worsening behaviour with each passing day.
Caring for Elderly with Autism
It is important to seek the help of specialists to formulate a plan when it comes to caring for such patients. In general, regular routines and caregiver involvement in the daily lives of these individuals is recommended. A normalised environment that does not overstimulate their senses is ideal. A good understanding of how these individuals interact and relate to others is also vital.
By helping them live the lives that they are most comfortable with, while ensuring that they do not suffer the negative effects that can come with the condition, we can help the elderly who have autism make the most of their time.
Let the JagaPros Lend a Hand
An individual with autism certainly requires some help when it comes to daily activities. By having someone on top of things, we can make sure that they are well taken care of while developing the necessary skills to cope with the condition. You can count on the JagaPros to give you a hand. With Jaga-Me’s home care services, our nurses and care assistants can provide your loved ones with the care and attention they need to overcome autism.
For more information on acquiring support for loved ones, read more here.
Find out more about Jaga-Me and our services here.