What is Autism? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
November 22, 2021
“Autism includes a broad range of conditions that are characterized by challenges with repetitive behaviours, social skills, non-verbal communication, and speech. “
As per the Center for Disease Control, the health condition affects around one in 54 children in the US.
It is basically related to the brain growth that impacts how a person socializes and perceives others. It causes issues in social interaction.
Autism begins in early childhood while causing issues functioning in society. While there is no cure for the health condition, early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference in several children’s lives.
Symptoms of Autism
Several children show the signs of autism in early infancy, like diminished eye contact, lack of response, etc. The common signs and symptoms of the health condition include:
- Lack of eye contact
- Doing something over and over, including repeating
- Phrases, flipping a lever, etc.
- Not listening to or looking at people.
- Lack of interest or intense interest in specific topics
- High sensitivity to touch, sounds, smell, or sights
- Not wanting to be cuddled or held
- Not focusing on things when another person points at them
- Trouble adapting to changes in routine
- Talking in a robotic, flat, or sing-song voice
- Issues in understanding or utilizing speech, gestures, voice tone, and facial expressions
Types of Autism Disorders
Though these types were once thought to be separate health conditions, they now fall under the autism disorder. This includes:
- Asperger’s Syndrome
Children with Asperger’s Syndrome do not have any issue with language. In fact, such children tend to score above average or average on intelligence tests. But even with such an advantage, they have some social issues and narrow interest scopes.
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
Children with disintegrative disorder have a typical development for at least two years. And later, they lose most of their social and communication skills.
- Autistic Disorder
This is the most common form that people think of whenever they hear about the autism health condition. This one generally refers to the issues with communication, social interactions, and play in children who are younger than three years.
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder
If the child adheres to some autistic behaviour, then the doctor might often use this term. This includes delays in communication and social skills.
Causes of Autism
Well, the exact reason behind it is still unclear. It can stem from issues in the brain’s parts that interprets the process of language and sensory inputs.
The health condition is four times more common in boys as compared to girls. It can occur in people of any ethnicity, social background, or race. However, the lifestyle, educational level, or family income doesn’t affect the risk of autism.
Still, there are several risk factors. This includes:
- Autism runs in families, so several definite genes combinations can increase the risk
- Pregnant women who are exposed to some chemicals or drugs like anti-seizure medications, alcohol, etc., are more likely to have autistic children.
- A child with an older parent has a higher risk
Essential to Note!
There is still no evidence that even vaccinations cause autism.
Diagnosis of Autism
It is challenging to get an accurate diagnosis of the health condition, but the doctor focuses on the development and behaviour.
However, in the case of children, the accurate diagnosis takes two steps.
- A development screening will help your doctor to figure out whether the child is on the right track with all the basic skills, including behaviour, learning, moving, and speaking. Health experts suggest that the children must be screened for diagnosing such developmental delays during their routine checkups at nine months, 18 months, 24 months, and 30 months of age.
- If the child shows any signs of issues on these screenings, they will require a detailed evaluation. This might involve vision, hearing, or genetic tests.
Even though there is no cure for the health condition, early diagnosis can make a huge difference.
The two main treatment types include:
- Behavioural and communication therapy can help with organization and structure.
- Applied Behaviour Analysis is one effective treatment that promotes positive behaviour.
- Occupational therapy that helps with life skills including eating, dressing, etc.
- Speech therapy to improve communication skills
- Sensory integration therapy to help with the issues with sights, sounds, and being touched.
- Medications to help with the Autism disorder include hyperactivity, anxiety, and attention issues.
The health condition is indeed challenging to cope with, but the early diagnosis of the health condition can actually make the real difference. If your child shows any uncertain behaviour, then see the doctor immediately.
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