What is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that impacts brain development and also impacts how autistic child perceives and socializes with others which can cause problems in social interaction and communication. This disorder causes limited and repetitive behaviour patterns. The term “spectrum” in this disorder refers to the wide range of signs and symptoms and its severity.
This disorder usually begins in early childhood and causes problems in a society functioning— socially, for example in school and at work. Most of the times symptoms of autism appear within the first year in children. For some children, symptoms do not appear in the first year, then go through a period of regression between the age of 18 and 24 months because they start to develop autism symptoms.
Till date, there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, but early treatment and care can make a big difference in many children lives.
Signs and Symptoms
- In most of the children, the signs usually are seen by age 2 years. The following are the signs and symptoms seen in Autism spectrum disorder.
- They do not respond to his or her name or sometimes do not to hear you at times
- Do not like cuddling and holding, and prefers to playing alone.
- Do not make eye contact and there is a lack of facial expression
- Do not speak or sometimes has delayed speech, or loses previous ability to form sentences.
- Do not answer or understand simple questions or directions
- Do not express emotions or feelings and doesn’t understand others’ feelings
- They cant point at objects or bring objects to share an interest
Follow the pattern of specific food preferences, which includes eating only a few foods, and refusing certain texture foods.
They are certain developmental tests which are recommended by your doctor to identify if your child has any delays in cognitive, language and social skills:
- Doesn’t express emotions and do not respond with a smile or happiness by 6 months.
- Doesn’t mimic any sounds or follow facial expressions by age of 9 months
- Do not point or wave by 14 months
- Doesn’t utter a single word by 16 months
- Doesn’t develop any language skills or social interaction skills at any age
There is no known single cause for this disorder. Looking at the complexity of the disorder, and the variation of symptoms and severity from individual to individual, there are many causes. Main factors are genetics and the environment.
Several different genes are known to be involved in autism spectrum disorder. For some children, it can be associated with a defective gene, such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome. For others, they are mutations in genes which may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder.
They have been a lot of ongoing research to explore what are the other factors which cause Autism Spectrum Disorder which includes viral infections, or certain medications, complications during pregnancy, or pollutants in the air plays an important role in this disorder.
Treatment options may include:
Communication and Behavioural therapies-
Many programs address issues of lack of social skills, language difficulties and behavioural difficulties associated with an autism spectrum disorder.
Some programs also focus on reducing behavioural problems and teaches new skills.
There is a program called Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) which helps children learn new skills and generalize these skills to multiple situations which help children reward-based motivation systems.
Children with this disorder most of the time respond well to highly structured educational programs.
There are many Successful programs which include a team of specialists and follow various activities to improve communication skills, social skills and behavioural problems.
Parents and other family members can help the autistic child to play and interact with them in many ways which promotes social interaction skills, manage behavioural problems. They can also teach them daily living skills and communication.
Right now there is no medication that can improve the signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, but they are specific medications that can help control symptoms.