This paper will focus on children with autism between the ages of three to nine years. It will identify the four factors such as, diet, education, behaviours and isolation, which impact upon the health and well-being of this client group. It will then identify the communication strategies with the client group, give a description of one, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). It will describe one health and one social care provision for the children referring to the relevant social policies. Finally, a reflection of learning will be provided as part of the conclusion.
Autism belongs to a collection of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorder. Autism is defined as a ‘lifelong condition that impinges on how an individual communicates with and relates to others’ (Gray, 2007). Most of the symptoms are seen from the age of 2 to 3 years when being noticed by the health care professionals and diagnosed (Aylott, 2000). For instance, repetitive behaviours, communication problems, difficulties with social interaction, being over under sensitive to sight, sound, smell, touch and test. Numbers of diagnosed cases have increased in the last 2 decades which may be due to health professionals getting better at diagnosing the cases at an early stage (NHS choice, 2011). There are over 50,000 people in UK with autism and including the families, autism touches the life of over 2,000,000 people everyday (National Autistic Society, 2011). In England estimated figures show that about 1 in 100 children have autism. Boys are three to four times more likely to develop autism than girls (Kay, 2007).
There are several factors that impact upon the health and well-being of this client group. Among these factors include, isolation, challenging behaviours, education and diet. Firstly, Children with autism suffer from more intense and frequent loneliness, they get frustrated because of the limitations their conditions impose on them and end up in isolation ( ). They often may not have interest in other people, making it hard to maintain friendships because of difficulties in social interaction. For instance, the inability to join in physical activities with their peers.
Some have communication problems whereby they find it difficult to express their needs and feelings. So a nurse should try to be creative by introducing some activities to the children so that they can feel wanted and this will improve their health and well-being (Jones, 2002). A second factor could be challenging behaviours. Children with autism see the world in a different way than other children (Macnair, 2009). Their behaviour is difficult to understand and changes according to the mood they are experiencing and this affects their learning and independence (Kay, 2007). Some of their behaviour may be due to attention seeking or when they need something for example a favourite toy but can not communicate their needs (Jordon and Powell, 1995). They may become obsessive with certain objects or repetitive behaviours for example, saying certain words every time. They may have poor co-ordination, be easily distracted and have tantrums when routines are disrupted or when there is a change in environment, so they become confused and distressed, low mood and tearful which can put an impact on their well-being (Mesibou et al, 2004). Nurses can respond by trying to attend to these children and follow the routine they want because they are vulnerable to themselves and other children.