– If at least one child was in the playground, Krzyś was not able to get in. He would lie down and scream,” says the mother of 8-year-old Krzyś, who suffers from autism. After a few years, she discovered a method that allowed her to have real contact with her child.

– When a person hears the diagnosis of autism, they start nervously searching for information. It turns out that the problem is bigger than suspected. The child often cannot go to kindergarten and one of the parents has to give up work. I didn’t realise it at the time, but today I know that such a parent also needs psychological support. I remember that the only thing I was able to do was to lie still in bed with my son,’ recalls Katarzyna Śledziewska, Krzysiek’s mum.

The first symptoms of autism

– Autism is a big bag, a spectrum of disorders that includes cases with mildly expressed symptoms to the most profound and severe ones. The disease is diagnosed in mentally handicapped children and in those with highly developed academic skills, says Maria Dąbrowska-Jędral, an autism doctor.

The first symptoms of autism appear very early, often as early as several months old infants, but they are most visible before the age of 3. – Until the age of two, I saw nothing suspicious in my child’s development, some skills puzzled me and gave the all-too-clever impression that he was growing into a small, somewhat closed-off genius. Then some disturbing behaviours appeared and the lack of reaction even to simple commands or to his own name. When Krzyś was three years old we went to a picnic at Pola Mokotowskie. Balloons were handed out, which the children punched for fun making a terrible noise. Krzyś did not seem to hear anything. He did not turn his head, which we normally do as a reflex. Then it got worse and worse. He started to get hysterical in the presence of other people, even his siblings. We rearranged the flat so that he could have his own room, where his siblings could not enter – recalls Krzysiek’s mum.

Autistic behaviour

Autism results in impaired social relationships. Autistic children quite often do not make eye contact with other people, for example, or it is very brief. The sick toddler prefers to spend time alone. – Sometimes I had the impression that he could not see or hear me. I would smile at him, say something and he would not react at all,” recalls Catherine. – I could wash him, dress him, feed him but I couldn’t play with him. He wouldn’t catch a thrown ball or throw it away,” she adds.

Autistic children also have difficulty complying with social rules due to a lack of understanding. Many of them do not obey instructions. In addition, behavioural disorders often occur – If a child is placed in a new, uncertain situation for him, he may react schematically, e.g. he may want to run away, he may get an anger attack, he may repeat certain phrases e.g. this is stupid, or he may start doing repetitive movements, muttering, talking to himself, etc. Some children refuse a challenge by, for example, lying down or some other form of resistance, including hitting the other person. The variety of behaviours is quite large, says Dr Jędral. – I remember that if at least one child was in the playground Krzyś was not able to get in. He would lie down and scream,’ recalls Katarzyna. She recounts that going into a shop or other public place caused an attack of hysteria that no one can cope with. In such a situation, the parent feels helpless and incompetent. Consequently, he stops visiting relatives and friends and concentrates on surviving without a brawl for the rest of the day. – In this way, the child is deprived of certain experiences that condition development. It is like wanting to get to know a city by walking along the same road every day,” explains Dr Jędral.

Autistic children are also often characterised by a lack of spontaneity or inventiveness in play, they do not propose activities or invent games. – Children with autism often do not play with toys. They go around in circles, they rock, they line up their toys and this is their entertainment. They are also unable to play symbolically, such as using a teddy bear to play Winnie the Pooh, explains Catherine.

Autism therapy

– There is no ‘gold standard’ in autism therapy, just as there is no single ideal working method, says Maria Jędral. Much depends on the child’s level of functioning, the parents’ expectations and abilities. The best known and described is the method of applied behaviour analysis, also known as behavioural. – It is a very effective tool for teaching many necessary skills. Competence is gained in the child through training using a system of rewards and sometimes punishments, the doctor explains. However, the method has some disadvantages. – After working with it for a few years, I realised that it did not touch the core of autism, i.e. the problem with social skills. I had the impression that this therapy was making my son into a robot,’ Catherine recalls. Behavioural techniques lead to the learning of habits and indirectly appropriate ways of behaving. The child makes progress in education, learns to be independent and goes through cleanliness training. However, with behavioural procedures it is impossible to teach a child to share what he sees, what he feels. The very eye contact taught using behavioural procedures is ‘unnatural’. – So what if Christopher was learning to recognise animals, plants, etc., when he continued to pay no attention when I showed him the various animals at the zoo. He wasn’t interested in me or what I was saying,” says Krzyś’s mum. – I also could not come to terms with my role as a mother reduced to therapist, driver, feeder, sleeper. I had the feeling that I wasn’t giving him anything of myself as a parent. I was next door, but not in his life. I wasn’t parenting, but organising therapy. I was annoyed when the holidays were coming up, because that meant there would be no activities for Christopher. Similarly, I didn’t like Sundays. This free time for Krzys was time lost for me, because he wasn’t learning. This made me addicted to therapists, consultations, Krzys’s classes, his programmes,” she adds.

Effects of autism therapy

– A lot has changed. I no longer remember what an aggression attack is. I have contact with the child. When we enter a new place, he looks at us and looks for information. He wants to help me in the kitchen, he shovels snow with us,” says Kasia. She adds that before the RDI therapy Krzyś did not ‘get into’ any games with her at all. – When I suggested something he would scream “I don’t want to”. Now he is ready for almost anything. I can make up whatever I want and Krzyś plays with me,” she says. – We lead a fairly ‘normal’ life, as far as this is possible with three children. We spend time together on holidays going around Europe, skiing or at the seaside. It is not a problem for us to visit a medieval town with the crowds of tourists or to have fun at the Aquapark. We go with the children to the cinema, to playgrounds or go on bike trips. Krzyś rides a bike, skis and skates. He is trying to learn to play tennis. He has learned to write, read, add and subtract. He is in the first class of the SP. I am aware that Christopher’s disorder is serious and, despite intensive work, we still have a lot to do. For me, the most important thing is that I know what to work on, that I have a plan… – says Kasia.


  • https://www.medonet.pl/magazyny/autyzm,autyzm—objawy–terapia,artykul,1637851.html