Autism Spectrum Disorder also called Autism, affects a person in many different ways. Anything can be affected from the nervous systems to the emotional and physical state of the body. A person diagnosed with Autism finds it extremely hard to communicate or interact with other people.

Recent studies have shown that Autism is becoming more and more common as six children in a total of 1000 are diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

What is Autism?

Disorders in the development of neurons that result in speech impairment, reciprocal impairment, problems having social meetings, behavior in a restricted manner, etc. have been defined as Autism. The way these core areas are affected vary widely along with the severity of the disorder.

Each autistic person has its unique strength and challenges. Some are quite skilled whereas some are seriously challenging and cannot perform a simple task. The early signs of autism are visible as early as when the child is 2-3 years old.

The Ratio between Male and Female

Boys are more susceptible than girls in the case of autism as the ratio between males and females is 4:1. As autism awareness is increasing among the public, researchers have broadened the research areas including new symptoms and factors. With this broadening of research areas, children being diagnosed with autism has increased to six in 1000 in comparison to four in 1000 in the last decade.

Causes of Autism

Autism in most of the cases is a combination of environmental and genetic factors. The combinational factor of genes and the environment is different for every person.

Genetic Factors

Autism is hereditary and can be passed along in the family. The chances of siblings being autistic in the same autistic family are between 2 – 8 %. Further, expanding the range of studies has revealed that monozygotic twins are more susceptible than dizygotic twins.

Monozygotic twins have a 90% chance of being diagnosed with ASD whereas dizygotic twins only have a 10% chance. Other genetic studies suggest a complex mode of inheritance, with linkage studies suggesting genetic loci on several chromosomes including chromosome 7 and chromosome X.

Environmental Factors

Several factors that can be a potential agent of autism are currently being researched. Studies in the epidemiological sectors have attribute prenatal infections especially, the ones with rubella and cytomegalovirus as a deciding factor for few cases of autism.

Other concerns are related to the vaccines developed for treating MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella).

Diagnosis

The most crucial role in recognizing ASD, especially at an early age is played by physicians. They should immediately raise their concerns to the parents if autism symptoms arise. Physicians need to be well-aware of the red flags to avoid the worst-case scenario.

The basic core deficits that can be an early sign of autism is speech impairment, socially inactive, repetitive behavior, etc. In most cases, even if signs of autism appear at the age of 2-3, they are quite subtle and cannot be detected until before school age.

These cases are referred to as Asperger Disorder as they are typically diagnosed with autism at a later stage when they are about 11 years old.

signs of autism

Autistic Symptoms

For children 3-4 years old

  • Speech impairment like delayed speech or difficulty following conversations
  • Almost no imagination
  • No interest in playing with other children
  • No feeling of pleasure of happiness
  • Repetitive body movements

For children 4-11 years old

  • Being mute or having a peculiar vocabulary
  • Being too aggressive while playing with others
  • Not cooperating with others
  • Not being able to follow what’s happening in the class
  • Not being able to handle change
  • Odd responses to sensitive stimuli

Adolescent

  • Having difficulties conducting to-and-fro conversations or providing more than required information on a topic they love
  • Not being able to adapt to the mood of the room
  • Not being able to understand sarcasm
  • Difficulty finding friends and maintaining relationships
  • A tendency to alienate themselves
  • Having extreme hobbies

Treatment for Autism

ASD is a lifelong disability, and the current state of medical advancements has yet to find a cure for autism. Still, there are numerous other medicines like atypical neuroleptics that keep in check a few mild symptoms such as aggressive behavior.

The best way to treat ASD is said to be intensive behavioral interventions during childhood. These interventions are aimed at improving the speech, social behavior, and ability to cope with change. Few of these therapy treatments are applied behavioral analysis and treatment and education of autistic and related communication handicapped children.

Conclusion

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a set of disabilities or impairments which manifest in the human body. These results in problems in the communication domain, social domain, and behavioral domain. The most crucial role in recognizing ASD especially at an early age is played by physicians. As the symptoms are sometimes difficult to recognize, it’s important to pay attention to every little behavioral change starting from very young age.

Ayush Harsh
Author

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