Caring for children with autism

To care for a child with autism, parents must first look after themselves and prepare for a long-term commitment.

"To single-handedly care for an autistic child is very draining, both psychologically and emotionally," said psychologist Daniel Koh from private clinic Insight Minds Centre.

One of the main challenges for parents is communicating with the child. "They may not know whether the child does not understand, or understands but does not know how to respond," he said.

Parents having difficulties should seek assistance such as by enrolling the child in a special needs school or getting help from relatives.

Autism is a lifelong condition that affects an individual's social interaction and perception of his surroundings.

In the case of the boy who fell to his death, a medical report stated that he was unable to produce meaningful speech and would scream when excited.

The causes of autism are unclear, but it is thought to be caused by chemical imbalances or genetic factors that affect brain development.

According to Singapore's Autism Resource Centre (ARC), there are varying degrees of autism that depend on two factors: intellectual ability and severity of the autism.

Although there is no known cure, an understanding of the specific condition of an individual will enable help to be given early and minimise adverse effects later in life.

ARC organises training to help caregivers understand and manage autistic individuals of all ages.

Lin Yangchen and Priscilla Goy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2016, with the headline 'Caring for children with autism'. Print Edition | Subscribe