Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder that has an impact on one’s behavior and communication. It is a condition that is related to the brain that explains why a person with autism might find difficulty in socializing with others and might show repetitive and limited behavioral patterns.
Some studies claim that this lifelong disorder appears in the early stages of life, usually during one’s childhood. Some children with this disorder show signs in their first year and further develops as they age. Unfortunately, doctors have not found any cure for this sickness yet. But it is recommended that an early treatment may help make a difference.
But what really is autism spectrum disorder? To know more about autism, its signs, characteristics, and coping, continue reading this article.
Signs of Autism
Anyone can be a victim of this disorder. It chooses no economic, ethnic, or racial group. A guide from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders explained that people with ASD have repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. Other signs that might appear are difficulty with interaction with others, especially in terms of communication. Also, those with ASD might have a problem in functioning in work, school, and other aspects in life.
Other signs include:
- Inconsistent eye contact
- Slow or failure to respond to someone who is calling their name
- Has an unusual tone of voice, usually robot sounding or might sound sing song
- Rarely enjoys activities
- Actions do not match the person’s movement, gestures, and facial expressions
- Have difficulties with conversing with other people
- Focused on talking about his or her interests without waiting for others to respond
- Experiencing troubles in understanding the perspective of others
- Repetitive behaviors
- Easily gets upset when there are changes in routine
- Sleeping problems
- Excels in art, music, science, or math
- Easily learns things
Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Unlike most illnesses, autism does not have an exact cause. Researchers are still studying the disorder even up to this date. Although through years of examinations, there are studies that say that two factors that can cause ASD are genetics and environmental factors.
According to some research, those with genetic disorders such as fragile X syndrome or Rett syndrome have a chance to have ASD. Some patients with autism can get this illness through genetic changes or mutations as well.
Sadly, autism can be inherited especially if the patient has a sibling or relative with ASD. Another risk factor that can cause ASD is a low birth weight. In fact, babies that are born before their 26th week have a higher probability of getting ASD. Also, there has been studies that say that boys have a bigger chance of having autism than girls.
Although it could be an unlikely case, there are patients that got this disorder from the environment. It can be from air pollutants, viral infections, medications, or even complications during one’s pregnancy.
In addition, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children must undergo tests to prevent developing the disorder. Below are the recommended diagnostics:
1. General Developmental Screening
Since studies prove that autism shows signs during childhood, parents must let their child take screenings to check if the child has a chance to have ASD. Doctors recommend that children on their 9th, 18th, and 24th or 30th month should be screened for autism. If anyone in the family has a record of autism, the child must undergo additional screening.
In this procedure, the doctor will evaluate the child by asking questions. The doctor will also observe the child’s behavior as part of the screening.
2. Level Two Evaluation
The second level would include more tests involving a developmental pediatrician, neuropsychologist, speech-language pathologist, and child psychologist. Children in this level will have to undergo more tests that will check their language abilities, thinking skills, and age-appropriate skills. Other tests included are hearing tests and blood tests.
3. Initial Evaluation for Adolescents
Older children, on the other hand, who showed risks of having ADS are usually sent to doctors for an initial evaluation. Once the evaluation confirms that the child has autism, he or she is advised to go to a specialist.
4. Evaluation for Adults
There can be instances wherein the adult was not given the needed diagnostic when he or she was a child. Although the signs of autism can easily be determined, there are chances that it might overlap with other disorders specifically mental health issues. This is why to prevent reaching this level, doctors strongly advise that parents take action once their child shows the subtle signs of autism.
Coping with Autism
Since there has been no proven cure to this illness, doctors and researchers believe that having treatments and vaccines can improve an ASD patient’s ability to socialize and communicate with others. Once the patient gets a green light of having autism, it is best that he or she should get treatment right away.
Doctors might prescribe medication that can limit his or her issues on irritability, anxiety, aggression, hyperactivity, and repetitive behavior. Others suggest that the patient should go for educational, behavioral, and psychological therapy. This way, the patient can reduce his or her challenging behaviors and develop his language, social, and communication skills. The therapy can also help the patient to live independently by learning the necessary life skills.
There are also autism support groups that can help patients reach out to other patients. This can also help those with autism to exercise and improve their skills with other patients.
Autism is a life-long disorder which can be caused by genetics or the environment. ASD usually shows symptoms during early childhood which is why it is very crucial for parents to immediately take action once any signs show up. Adding to this, evaluating adults who have a chance of getting autism is difficult as the patient might show up signs related to mental health issues.
Meanwhile, those with autism can take medications, go to treatments, and even take part in support groups to improve their social and communication skills.