Autism in today’s world: the hidden epidemic?

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. It is characterized by varying degrees of issues with communication, social interaction, and atypical, repetitive behaviors. Basically, autism affects how one communicates with, and relates to, other people as well as how they make sense of the world around them.

One percent of the population of children in the U.S. ages 3-17 have an autism spectrum disorder. The number has skyrocketed in the past decade causing widespread concern and confusion.

Chess, painting by Austrian artist Werner Horwath influenced by Phantastic Realism

Chess (1977), art by Werner Horvath

There is no known cure for autism. But, regardless of the severity of the condition, appropriate treatment can eventually help many children to be integrated into society. We need to create a world where people with autism are respected, loved, self-reliant, happy and understood for who they are as a result of the strategies implemented by those that love and care for them.

Caregivers should learn how to empower autists with treatments and strategies that are likely to be effective in moving them closer to established goals and greatest potential. That may help them achieve their own personal best by expressing their unique gifts, strengths and talents.

Chess may be good for autists to connect

Chess appears a suitable activity for many children and adults with autism. Although scientific research on this subject is lacking, experience indicates that chess stimulates social, emotional and cognitive development. Chess seems to be a good means for creating mutual contact. So why not try to talk to an autistic kid via chess?

Parenting a child with autism: chess may help to connect

Do you know how talk to an autistic child effectively?

“Chess is definitely a suitable sport for autists. The rules of the game are clear, there is no physical contact, it’s nice and quiet,” says Heleen Kers from Apeldoorn. Via Heleen, a dozen children of De Ambelt school for special education have joined the school chess club De Schakel.

Here is a link to the article Chess and Autism from the book Developing Chess Talent, by Karel van Delft and IM Merijn van Delft. The Dutch father-and-son team,  both psychologists, have put together a work best exemplified by its subtitle Creating a chess culture by coaching, training, organization and communication. In the article they show how chess may be beneficial and help autists connect and communicate with others.

The book is recommended by the World Chess Federation FIDE Trainers’ Commission (http://trainers.fide.com/recommended-books.html.)

Karel maintains his Chess Talent site at http://www.schaaktalent.nl/

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