Decoded: Understanding Autism
"Kids can have autism, but they are not autism. They're kids. They have skills, they have abilities, autism is something that they deal with, it's a medical condition, it's a neuro-developmental disorder, but it doesn't define the child."
This is the sentiment expressed by neuropsychologist Dr. Tim Conway when asked about the impact of autism on a child. There is a common misconception that children with autism cannot function like other children or cannot lead normal lives.
While more and more children are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are currently no current statistics about autism in Trinidad and Tobago.
April has been dubbed Autism Awareness Month and a lot of work is being done to raise awareness and provide support for children and families across the country. Unfortunately, there are still many who are not familiar with the disorder and cannot identify the early warning signs in children, whether it be in the home or at school. This leads to a child being wrongly labelled and treated as 'undisciplined', or 'difficult', and missing out on the proper treatment that they need.
Dr. Conway breaks down what exactly is autism, early warning signs to look out for and when a parent should visit a trained specialist for a diagnosis.
Conway owns and operates The Morris Centre Trinidad and Tobago, an all-inclusive neurodevelopmental treatment, and assessment centre.
The centre helps to improve skills of children and adults who have difficulty with school or job success due to poor reading, spelling, comprehension, writing, speech, math, sensory processing attention, behavior or social skills.It also utilises a transdisciplinary team of professionals, individually tailored assessment and treatment, and a scientifically proven treatment programme.
He has also developed Neuro-development of Words-NOW!, research-based programmes that prevent or treat learning disabilities and enrich skills such as phonological processing; visual working memory; auditory working memory; sequencing numbers, letters and/or ideas; verbal memory and mental imagery. The programmes have been proven to help significantly improve the academic skills of children with dyslexia and learning disorders and may be helpful to some children with autism too.