Posts for tag: Autism
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, is a developmental disability that can cause significant communication, communication, and behavioral challenges. The thinking, learning, and problem-solving abilities of individuals with autism can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some individuals with autism need only a bit of help in their daily lives; others need more. While there's no cure for autism, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
ASD is the fastest growing serious, developmental disability, affecting an estimated one out of 59 kids in America. Autism begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society — at work, in school, and socially, for example. Often kids show symptoms of autism within the first year. Autism impacts how people perceive and socialize with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication.
Autism can look different in different people. Kids with autism have a hard time interacting with others. Social skills difficulties are some of the most common signs. A child with ASD might want to have close relationships but not know how. Most have some problems with communication. Kids with ASD also act in ways that seem unusual. Examples of this can include repetitive behaviors like jumping, hand-flapping, constant moving, fixations on certain objects, fussy eating habits, impulsiveness, and aggressive behavior.
The exact cause of ASD is not known, but it's believed that genetic and environmental factors are involved. Research shows that ASD tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child with develop autism. Research also shows that certain environmental influences may increase autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Researchers are exploring whether certain factors such as medications, viral infections, or complications during pregnancy play a role in triggering ASD.
Treatment options may include nutritional therapy, physical therapy, behavior and communication therapies, educational therapies, family therapies, and medications. No medication can improve the core signs of ASD, but specific medications can help control symptoms. For example, antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems; certain medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive; and antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety.
Autism can impact your child's quality of life. If you think your child may have autism, find a pediatrician near you and schedule a consultation. Proper diagnosis and treatment of autism can help your child live a happier, more successful life. The earlier children with autism get help, the greater their chance of treatment success.
People with autism have such a wide variety of symptoms and experiences, it can be challenging to address the condition in general terms. For example, there are many physical signs and consequences experienced by autistic people that may never surface in a large portion of the autistic population, but that doesn't mean they're not related to the disorder.
Some of the most common physical effects of autism include sensory sensitivity (or lack thereof), gastrointestinal problems and coordination.
A person's sensory sensitivities can greatly influence the way he or she interacts with the world. For example, a high tolerance or indifference to pain, as is often found among autistic individuals, can have serious physical consequences.
Think for a moment what you might do if you burn your hand or otherwise injure yourself: You'd probably give it some sort of medical attention, either at home or at a doctor's office, because the discomfort you've suffered as a result has interrupted your regular activities or daily routine. Because injuries often have complications, it's important to have a doctor look into what's causing you pain. If an autistic person is unbothered by pain, he or she may not seek medical attention, allowing the issue to potentially inflict more damage on his or her body.
Sensitivity to light and sound can also make it difficult for autistic people to go into uncontrolled environments, limiting their capacity for physical activity. Research suggests that exercise is beneficial to people with autism, but helping an autistic person get active isn't as simple as stepping through the front door to go on a job. Careful consideration needs to be taken to accommodate sensitivities, coordination and comfort with new things.
Digestive issues often occur in people on the autism spectrum. Other than the discomfort related to gastrointestinal (GI) issues, there are health consequences. For example, chronic diarrhea could mean a person isn't getting all the necessary nutrients they may have ingested, opening up the possibility of vitamin deficiencies and other symptoms of malnutrition.
An autistic person's physical health is paramount, and their disorder should not be an excuse to ignore or minimize the significance common symptoms like GI problems, diminished coordination or sensory sensitivities. Discuss treatment options with a pediatrician or primary care provider familiar with the disorder and its implications, but trust your instincts, too. As the family member of someone with autism, you're more in-tune to that person's needs than anyone else.
While autism generally is not diagnosed in children until the age of three or so, it is possible to spot the warning signs and begin taking preventative measures as early as around six months. With autism, early intervention is crucial, but you can't begin the process until you know your child is at risk. Here are four major warning signs to watch out for.
1. Limited Attempts at Interaction
Whether a baby is friendly or shy, all babies should show emotion when they see their favorite caregiver. If your baby does not smile in response to seeing you, does not imitate or seem interested in your facial expressions, does not make eye contact or shows no interest in others, it may be an early sign of autism.
2. Limited Desire to Communicate
Even babies who cannot yet talk generally find ways to communicate with their caregivers, whether that is through crying, gesturing, pulling or babbling. If your baby shows little interest in communicating with you, however, it may be a sign of autism. Warning signs include: lack of gesturing to communicate, delayed speech and a failure to respond to one's own name.
3. Limited Social Skills
While toddlers may be too busy to interact with others for very long, most babies thrive on and need social interaction with friends and family. If your child seems uninterested in cuddling, rarely makes bids for your attention and does not reach to be picked up, autism may be the cause.
4. Delayed Motor Development
While autism occurs mostly in an individual's thoughts and behavior, it can affect a child physically as well. Children with autism may play with toys in unusual ways or experience slowed or even regressing motor development.
All children learn and grow at their own pace, so a few of these signs alone may not be cause for concern. If your child is significantly behind or if they are behind in several areas, however, you may want to speak to your child's pediatrician. A "wait and see" approach is rarely the best option. The sooner you can get your child the help they need, the better off they will be.