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Autism

What is "Autism"? Know more about the disorder!

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or simply termed as Autism refers to a broad range of complex neurobehavioral condition which gets characterized by the complications or impairments in behavior, social skills, speech as well as nonverbal communication. This condition covers a wide spectrum of symptoms for which it gets termed as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The severity of the symptoms or the impairments is high in disabled persons while the symptoms in people leading a normal life are limited.

Autism is not of one type; autism has several subtypes.

The subtypes of autism condition get influenced by either the environmental factors or a combination of genetic factors. As autism is a spectrum disorder, persons with autism have a varying set of strengths and face different challenges. It can be challenging for the person with autism to learn, think or solve a problem. Meanwhile, some other persons with the condition may be highly skilled to carry out the works.

 The people facing challenges in learning, thinking or solving a problem may require support in their daily lives while the persons with the condition who carry out the works skillfully may not require any support and may even live independently. The people with devastating disability may require institutional care.
Signs and symptoms of ASD

  • Avoiding eye contacts
  • Avoiding looking or listening to others
  • Rarely enjoying new things
  • Failing to respond to others
  • Facing difficulties in having back and forth conversation
  • Uncommon facial expressions or gestures
  • Unusual voice
  • Facing trouble in understanding the commands or actions of others
  • Repetitive behavior and repeating phrases or words
  • Getting upset with normal deviation in daily routine
  • Being less or more sensitive to sensory inputs

 

The symptoms of autism disorder usually appear in the age of 2 or 3, but some developmental disorders may appear earlier. Children with ASD with high sensitivity are likely to face troubles and even sometimes experience pain by sounds, smells, touches or even sights which are normal for others. But, the condition can be diagnosed at any age.

The persons with autism experience trouble in communicating and also it is troubling for them to understand what others think and feel for which it becomes a challenge for them to express themselves with words, gestures, facial expressions, and touch.

Children with the disorder develop unusual responses to people, resistance to changes in routine, attachments to any particular object or aggressive nature which raises the chances of self-injuries. Such children may also leave activities, people and objects in their surrounding unnoticed. Some children may develop seizures in their young age while in some children seizures may not develop until adolescence.

The probable reasons for developing autism

Sensory sensitivities, medical issues like seizures, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal or mental health challenges like depression, anxiety and attention issues are among the many factors that influence the development of autism.

It is difficult to state the actual reason for developing autism, but many researchers think that the combination of certain genes may develop autism in a child. But certain factors raise the risk of having a child with autism!

  • If either the father or mother is in their advanced age, the chance of having an autistic child is high.
  • Getting exposed to certain chemicals or drugs during pregnancy also raises the risk.
  • If the child’s weight is less at the time of birth.
  • Having a sibling with the condition also raises the chances of developing autism.
  • Alcohol consumption or diabetes and obesity during the maternal period could be among several reasons.
  • Autism can also be linked to leaving phenylketonuria or PKU untreated, as it is an inborn metabolic disorder caused by the absence of an enzyme.

However, there is no evidence to prove that these reasons develop the risk of autism in a child.

How a person/child is diagnosed to detect ASD?

The doctors analyze the behavior and development of the person to diagnose the condition. ASD generally gets diagnosed within two years after birth. The pediatric specialists screen the development delays within a child in 9-18 and 24-30 months. The healthcare provider conducts additional screening if the child is at a high risk of developmental problems and ASD.

Developmental pediatrician, child psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, and speech-language pathologist form a team to evaluate the cognitive level, language abilities, and age-appropriate skills of a child in the comprehensive evaluation phase. The formal diagnosis may include hearing tests and blood tests.

The symptoms in older children attending school are easier to detect. Parents and teachers easily can recognize the symptoms. After the initial evaluation, the children with possible symptoms need to visit the primary healthcare doctors with specialization in ASD. The parents need to discuss the problems faced by the child, i.e., facial expressions, voice tone, and body language.

It is quite difficult to diagnose the condition in adults as the ASD symptoms may overlap with the symptoms of other mental disorders like anxiety or hyperactivity disorder. The adults with probable symptoms need to discuss with the doctor for ASD evaluation. The adults can consult a psychologist, neuropsychologist or a psychiatrist with experience in ASD. The specialist will evaluate the condition and make the diagnosis with high accuracy.

Treatments and medication for ASD

ASD treatment should begin soon after diagnosis. Early treatment for treating the condition will help to reduce the difficulties of the persons with ASD. Proper treatment will also help them to learn new skills. One treatment or therapy is not for all persons with ASD. The doctors diagnose the condition and suggest the right treatment.

The doctors may prescribe certain medicines to treat the symptoms of ASD and reduce the extremity of problems like aggression, irritability, hyperactivity, repetitive behavior, attention problems, and anxiety. The children or adults with ASD may require consulting doctors with specialization in providing psychological, behavioral, educational and skill-building that will help them to cope with the social environment and control the impacts of the disorder.

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