Autism Spectrum Disorder Information
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism as it is often shortened to is a medical condition that affects communication skills, social interaction and understanding, personal interests and behaviour.
Children with autism usually have symptoms that are apparent before the age of three. However diagnosis can be difficult before this time.
It's estimated that about 1 in 100 people in the United Kingdom has autism. More males are affected than are females.
Though a "cure" is not an option for an individual with autismtherapies such as speech, language and occupational therapy, educational support, plus a number of other interventions are available to help children and parents and others affected by the condition.
Autism is so varying and complex that we'd recommend sourcing detail from trustworthy information channels such as NHS UK.
Fatima - A Real Life Story About Autism
WARNING: This story contains content that may upset some readers
Fatima’s is nine and autistic. Her parents had concerns about her development from around the age of 12 months though a diagnosis of her autism wasn’t made until just before she was three. Fatima has many complications. Amongst them she is non-verbal. She has never made a single social connection with another person. She doesn’t understand the feelings of others and she harms herself.
Fatima first went missing in summer 2015. One minute she was sat watching her favourite DVD documentary on marine life, the next she was gone from the family home. Apparently she stood up from sitting on her bean bag, switched off the television and left the house, walking through the kitchen and out of the door whilst her mother was busy cleaning out one of the lower cupboards.
Though it could only have been a few minutes since her ‘going walkabouts’, it was sufficient enough for her to board a bus and take a ride towards the nearest town. In the meantime upon realising their daughter Fatima was not in the house, a panicking mum searched the immediate vicinity and then called the Police to report Fatima missing.
The Police had found and returned Fatima within the hour after she’d been found repeatedly hitting the glass window on the upper deck of the bus violently with her head. The driver radioed the incident in after halting the vehicle and being unable to get a response from Fatima. When she had boarded the bus the driver had assumed she was the child of another passenger that had boarded at the same bus stop.
The incident caused Fatima’s parents to take various actions. One of which was to furnish her with a permanent source of emergency ID provided by You ID Me. Though Fatima didn’t like to wear a wristband she was comfortable with a medical identity tag worn around her neck.
The system allowed Fatima’s parents to add vital information about her condition giving any first-responder key information on how best to make Fatima feel comfortable; what type of TV programs she likes to watch, what type of music she likes and dislikes and what kind of food and drink she might like whilst they arrive.
Fatima was around five when she began displaying early signs of self-injurious behaviour (SIB). Though there had been a number of different interventions to try to reduce Fatima’s self-injurious behaviour none were effective. Fatima would self-bite, head bang and later even used a stapler to penetrate her palm. On one occasion she broke a mirror repeatedly with her forehead well beyond the point blood had been spilt.
This had caused Fatima’s parents to create a process early on whereby a fully charged phone was always carried in Fatima’s schoolbag so that if her You ID Me service was activated – thereby triggering emergency SMS alerts to mum and dad’s phone – they could call the phone in the hope of connecting with the first-responder. This plan was exercised in 2016…
It was February 2016 and the morning began like any other school day. Fatima’s mum put her in the taxi that would take her to the special school she attends 35 miles from home. But later in the morning the school had contacted mum to let her know that Fatima needed to be returned home; she had become unwell, developing flu-like symptoms.
It was in the taxi on the return journey that Fatima began to bite herself. Biting her hand and wrist with such depth and intensity that an artery was ruptured and blood began to “[…] hose the inside of the car”. “At first I thought my passenger was spraying a drink at me. A fine spray hit the side of my face. But then seeing blood hit the inside of my windscreen was quite frightening. It caused me to swerve on the road. I almost collided with an oncoming vehicle” said specialist taxi driver Mark Hughes.
Being a trained first aider Mark called emergency services. In the meantime he applied the necessary pressure to stop Fatima’s bleeding, monitored her condition and tried to provide reassurance to her.
“Accessing Fatima’s emergency ID profile provided me with vital information pertinent to her that enabled me to help keep her calm and reassured.” said Mark “Being parked at the roadside with blood splattered car windows must have been quite disturbing to passing vehicles, but the calmness inside the car was down to what I learned by accessing that ID tag. Luckily I had Fatima’s favourite music on my MP3 player in the car.”
Although a terrible ordeal Mum was able to arrive at the accident and emergency department ahead of the ambulance due to the communication channel opened up by You ID Me with Fatima’s first-responder.
The story is remarkable on a number of levels. It highlights perhaps the tip of the iceberg of the challenges faced by parents and caregivers of people with autism. It also provides a glimpse for the rest of us of the devastating consequences of the condition.
On a positive note the case demonstrates the vital role that You ID Me plays in the lives of many people who live with autism. And how You ID Me’s new emergency alert functionality provides a world-class service.
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