Being a baby involves rapid development in basic fields of feeling, seeing, eating, talking and walking. From a social point of view, attachment is a central feature. This means that the baby will try to attach to people in its surrounding; that means trying to bond with these people. It uses everything it has to bond: babbling, smiling, grabbing, and crying. Many autistic children resist or ignore contact with their parents as a baby.
They often cry, they hold their arms limp along their body when they are picked up, they hardly if ever smile, and sometimes they push the other away. The toddler too is actively involved in keeping his caretakers near to ensure help is there when it is needed. Kids with autism are not able to do much bonding. This makes it more difficult not only for themselves but also for their surroundings. The caretaker, usually the mother, will try to make contact with the child. A parent may feel rejected when the baby doesn't make contact or even does not seem to be interested in making contact. The young child with autism seeks even less consolation or help and seems deeply involved within himself. Some parents will feel rejected. Others, however, will feel very close to their child because it will not break the symbiotic relationship with the caring parent. So it is not a first example of the stubbornness phase, which is part of healthy development and is an illustration of the first separation from the parents, while the child keeps depending on the parent or caretaker at the same time.
The parent will keep supplying the help that is needed. As said before, some parents will feel rejected and others won't. The child will keep using the parent as if the parent was an instrumental part of itself. For instance it will grab its parent's arm and point to an object it would like to have. It doesn't reach the point of being able to function autonomously on its own. This is another illustration of the fact that the child has difficulty in bonding in a safe manner, because this child is not able to let loose. It hardly makes eye contact, and the gaze is often seen as empty, gazing past another person or fixating on the tip of somebody's nose.
This gaze is perceived as 'penetrating.' Bonding is a complicated social activity and requires development of social insights. It means actively working on the 'theory-of-mind,' which implies the development of a theory over one's own thoughts and feelings and those of others. In this phase, children are not at all occupied with bonding. Sometimes they are still busy with subjects that ripen quicker with the average child. For instance the body still has to learn how to digest food, the immune system needs to be activated, their senses still need to develop further, their motoric senses need more development too, language needs to be formed and the child needs to be toilet trained.
By Raymond Le Blanc. If you want to know more about Autism Spectrum Disorders please visit Asperger's Syndrome in Laymen's Terms
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