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Autism Spectrum Disorder- Symptoms & Diagnosis

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   5 min     

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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. It is called a “spectrum” disorder because people with ASD can have a range of symptoms. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder starts in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society, in school and at work. Children show symptoms of autism in their first year only. A very few children develop normally in the first year and then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months of age when they develop autism symptoms.

Till now there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder but early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder Causes

There are various causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder including both genetic and environmental. 

Genetics

Many genes are involved in autism spectrum disorder. For some children, autism is associated with a genetic disorder, like Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome. Some genetic changes are hereditary, while others occur spontaneously.

Environmental Factors

Research is going on to explore whether factors such as viral infections, medications or complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants play a role in triggering autism spectrum disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms

Some children show signs of ASD in early infancy, such as reduced eye contact, lack of response to their name or indifference to caregivers. Other children may develop normally for the first few months or years of life, but suddenly become withdrawn or aggressive or lose language skills they have already acquired. Signs usually are seen by age 2 years. Each child with ASD is likely to have a unique pattern of behaviour and level of severity, from low functioning to high functioning.

Some children with autism have difficulty learning, and some have signs of lower than normal intelligence. Other children with the disorder have normal to high intelligence.

Below are some common signs shown by people who ASD:

  • Fails to respond to his or her name or appears not to hear you at times

  • Resists cuddling and holding, and seems to prefer playing alone, retreating into his or her own world

  • Has poor eye contact and lacks facial expression

  • Doesn't speak or has delayed speech, or loses previous ability to say words or sentences

  • Can't start a conversation or keep one going, or only starts one to make requests or label items

  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm and may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech

  • Repeats words or phrases verbatim, but doesn't understand how to use them

  • Doesn't appear to understand simple questions or directions

  • Doesn't express emotions or feelings and appears unaware of others' feelings

  • Doesn't point at or bring objects to share an interest

Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

Your child's doctor will look for signs of developmental delays at regular check-ups.

Observe the child and ask about the child's social interactions, communication skills and behaviour have developed and changed over time.

Give your child tests covering hearing, speech, language, developmental level, and social and behavioural issues.

Present structured social and communication interactions to your child and score the performance.

Recommend genetic testing to identify whether your child has a genetic disorder such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome

Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatment

There is no cure for ADS. The goal of treatment is to maximize your child's ability to function by reducing ADS symptoms and supporting development and learning

The range of home-based and school-based treatments and interventions for ADS can be overwhelming, and your child's needs may change over time

Treatment options may include:

Behaviour and communication therapies

Many programs address the range of social, language and behavioural difficulties associated with ADS. Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) can help children learn new skills and generalize these skills in multiple situations through a reward-based motivation system.

Educational therapies

Children with ADS often respond well to highly structured educational programs. Successful programs typically include a team of specialists and a variety of activities to improve social skills, communication and behaviour.

Family therapies

Parents and other family members can learn how to play and interact with their children in ways that promote social interaction skills, manage problem behaviours, and teach daily living skills and communication.

Other therapies

Depending on your child's needs, speech therapy to improve communication skills, occupational therapy to teach activities of daily living, and physical therapy to improve movement and balance may be beneficial

Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevention

You can’t prevent autism spectrum disorder, but there are several treatment options. Early diagnosis is very helpful and can improve behaviour, skills, and language development. Though children usually don’t outgrow autism spectrum disorder symptoms but they may learn to function well.

When to See a Doctor

Babies develop rapidly and many of them don’t follow exact timelines found in some parenting books. Babies with the least severe problems eventually may lead near-normal lives. 

If you think that your child may have an autism spectrum disorder then discuss your concerns with the doctor. The symptoms of autism spectrum disorder usually appear early in development and are noticed by delay in language skills and social interactions.

The doctor may order some developmental tests for your child to identify delays in cognitive, language and social skills if your child:

  • Doesn’t respond with a smile or happy expression by 6 months.

  • Doesn’t mimic sounds or facial expressions by 9 months.

  • Doesn’t gesture such as point or wave.

  • Doesn’t say single words by 16 months.

  • Doesn’t say two-word phrases by 24 months.

  • Loses language skills or social skills at any age.

  • Doesn’t babble or coo by 12 months.

Tags:  Child Care,Autism, child development, social and behavioral issues

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