Autism is a developmental delay disorder. It is commonly known as an autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder is a broad complex of conditions associated with challenges with social interaction and communication, Repetitive behaviors, impaired intellectual level, poor or delayed developmental, language and communication skills.
ASD (Autism spectrum disorder) refers to a range of conditions characterized by some degree of impaired social behavior, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively.
It develops in early childhood and remains throughout a person’s life. In most cases, the conditions are apparent during the first five years of life. Earlier diagnosis can help us in a better treated autistic child. With the help of earlier diagnosis, we can help in improving the majority of symptoms at an earlier age. Worldwide, people with ASD are often subject to stigma, discrimination, and human rights violations. Globally, access to services and support for people with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) is inadequate.
World autism awareness day is April 2nd and people are wearing a blue color that day to raise awareness for the disease which is a developmental disorder.
Sad Facts about Autism
- According to WHO, it is estimated that worldwide 1 in 160 children has ASD. This estimate represents an average figure, and reported prevalence varies substantially across studies.
- The prevalence of the disease appears to be increasing globally. The possible reasons for this apparent increase are raised awareness regarding disease, better diagnostic criteria & improved reporting, etc.
- Every 1 in 59 children in the US is suffering from autism spectrum disorder.
- Individuals who are suffering from the disease are often associated with other conditions such as epilepsy, attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD), Depression, and Anxiety.
- Most children are still being diagnosed after the age of 4, though autism can be reliably diagnosed before the child celebrated their 2nd birthdays.
- There is no medical detection for the disease.
- Autism affects all socioeconomic and ethnic groups.
- Boys are affected 4 times more than the girls.
- It is a fact that individuals who are suffering from the disease having various degrees of intellect levels. Their IQ ranges from zero to super levels. Their level of intellectual functioning ranges from profound impairment to superior levels.
Usual age of diagnosis is between 18 months to 36 months.
If diagnosed before the age of 3 years it result in better outcome.
There is a wide range of signs regarding autism but below is the list of some of the major symptoms which help someone to judge regarding their child.
- No babbling by 06 months
- No warm, happy expression by 06 months
- Doesn’t imitate sounds or facial expressions by 09 months
- No response to name if called by 12 months of age
- Doesn’t speak/ utter single words by 16 months
- Unable to make two –word phrases by 24 months
- Performs activities that could cause self-harm such as biting or Headbanging.
- Repetitive body movements Head rolling, body rocking
- Repetitive behavior such as hand flapping, rocking, spinning, moving constantly, running back and forth.
- Little or No eye to eye contact
- Repetition of words
- Obsessive attachment to unusual objects like rubber bands, keys, light switches, etc.
- Oversensitive or under-sensitive to sounds
- Poor speech or lack of speech
- Underdeveloped sense of danger/ No fear of danger
- May prefer to be alone
- Inappropriate laughter
- They have a world of their own dream words
- Unusual affection to non-living objects
- Crying without reason
- Walking on toes
- Unusual sensitivity to light sound and touch while indifferent to pain and temperature.
Autism Causes :
The exact cause of Autism is still unknown, idiopathic, and unclear but various factors and connections are now related to autism. Multiple theories have been presented in this context but the exact role is still unclear. Concluding all these theories both genetics and environment play important role in the disease. A brief list of various factors related to autism is given below.
- A prenatal viral infection is the principal non-genetic reason for autism. Prenatal exposure to cytomegalovirus (CMV) OR Rubella appears to change immune responses in mice during experiments and may increase the risk of autism in mice. Congenital rubella syndrome is the most important environmental cause of autism.
- Siblings have a connection, sometimes autism run in families
- Genetics play a major role in the etiology of autism. For some children, autism can be associated with a genetic disorder, such as Ret syndrome or fragile X syndrome. Mutations (genetic changes) may increase the risk of autism.
- Older age of parents increase the risk of autism
- Earlier the diagnosis betters the prognosis. But it is very sad to know that there is no medical test like blood tests to diagnose autism. Only the eyes (intellect) & hands of the mother /immediate caretaker of the child are the ones to diagnose it.
- Autism develops in the early years of life so as early as the diagnosis is made the child is able to improve or even overcome his/her disabilities. According to researchers and health care specialists, autism can be diagnosed even before the child celebrated their 2nd birthdays. Mothers are the first person who can detect their kid’s developmental disabilities in earlier years so every new mother should prepare herself with these skills to pick their toddler’s delay or missed milestones and their response to various stimulants. The need for the time is to educate the mothers to diagnose the child with these developmental disabilities. Our motto is to raise awareness among the society so that new mothers are able to know their child’s milestones with age so any disability can be picked up at earlier stages. If autism is diagnosed in the early years of life with the help of various therapies and treatment the child is able to live his/her life in a better way. So give attention to your toddlers and mark their milestones in a diary so that any delay can be picked up. Do not ignore your child’s repetitive, agitated newly adopted weird, or rather strange behaviors. Remember your attention and proper care can help your children live in their upcoming future.
There is no single management & treatment protocol for all children with autism. It is a known fact that Autism is a lifelong journey and still there is no definitive treatment for this developmental disability but with the help of various therapies and strategies we can improve the quality of life of autistic children and they can spend their lives with fewer troubles and difficulties. The most effective treatments for autism are
- Applied behavior analysis (ABA) / Behavior therapy. (The most reliable, beneficial and accepted behavioral therapy, best to start before the age of 05 year but can be start at any age)
- Occupational therapy
- Speech & language therapy
- Physical therapy
- Nutritional therapy
- Pharmacological therapy (the only FDA approved drug for autism spectrum disorder is Risperidone. It can be prescribed for agitated and irritated behaviors for kids between the ages of 0 5 to 16 years.)
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
The goal is to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behavior that is harmful or affect learning. The aim is to improve the child’s communication skills and to decrease agitated and aggressive behaviors. It is proved through researches that if autism is picked at earlier years in life and if therapies are started in a proper manner most of the developmental and behavioral problems of autistic children can be overcome or improved.
“AUTISTIC PEOPLE USE BEHAVIOR JUST LIKE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT AUTISTIC”
We call their behaviors solutions.
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