Autism 101Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. It is one of the three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met. Autism varies greatly in severity and is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests.
Symptoms of autism usually emerge in the first three years of childhood and carries on throughout life. The signs usually develop gradually, but some children with autism first develop more normally and then regress. While there is no known cure for this, proper management could promote relatively typical development and reduce undesirable behaviors. Out of every 1,000 children, an estimate of 3 to 6 of them will have autism. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females. .
- Unresponsive to others
- Intent focus on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time
- Initial normal development followed by withdrawal and indifference to social engagement
- Failure to respond to their his/her name
- Often avoiding eye contact with other people
- Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
- Difficulty interpreting tone of voice or facial expressions
- Inability to watch other peoples faces for clues about appropriate behavior
- Inability to feel empathy
- Repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling
- Self-abusive behaviors such as biting or head-banging
- Tendency to speak later than other children
- Failure to interact with other children
- Tendency to speak in a sing-song voice about narrow range of favorite topics
- Reduced sensitivity to pain
- Abnormal sensitivity to sound, touch or other sensory stimulation
- Resistance to being cuddled or hugged
How is autism diagnosed?
Autism is often diagnosed by the age of 3, even though certain researches at this moment may perhaps say that you would be able to diagnose a child having the supposed disease as early as 6 months. The hallmark feature of autism is impaired social interaction. Parents are likely to be the very first to notice symptoms of autism in their child. As early as infancy, a baby with autism could be unresponsive to people or they have a tendency to focus intently on one item while excluding others for long periods of time. A child with autism may appear to develop normally after which withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
Autism is defined in the DSM-IV-TR as exhibiting at least six symptoms total, including at least two symptoms of qualitative impairment in social interaction, at least one symptom of qualitative impairment in communication, and at least one symptom of restricted and repetitive behavior.
The Diagnosis is often determined by behavior, and never on the cause or mechanism. The observations of the parents are necessary in conducting a proper screening. Also, a number of basic screening tools are being used to screen for autism including the Checklist of Autism in Toddler (CHAT) as well as the Comprehensive Autism Rating Scale (CARS), though they don't offer diagnosis but rather they indicate if the child should need further evaluation.
A pediatrician usually performs a preliminary research by means of taking developmental history and physically examining the child. Under-diagnosis and over-diagnosis are problems in marginal cases, and much of the recent increase in the number of reported ASD cases is probably attributable to changes in diagnostic practices. The growing popularity of drug treatment alternatives as well as the expansion of benefits has given providers incentives to diagnose ASD, resulting in some over-diagnosis of children with uncertain symptoms. New research shows that when parents suspect something is wrong with their child, they are likely to be correct. When you have concerns regarding your childís development, don't wait: speak to your pediatrician and have him/her screened for autism.
What causes autism?
There isnít any certainty as to what causes autism, but itís likely that both genetics and environment play a role. Researchers have identified several genes related with the disorder. Studies of individuals with autism have found irregularities in several regions of the brain. And while these findings are intriguing, they are preliminary and require further study. The theory that parental practices are responsible for autism has now been disproved.
How can autism be treated?
Therapies and behavioral interventions are intended to treat certain symptoms which enable it to bring forth significant development, but there is basically NO CURE for autism. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that focus on the core symptoms of autism: impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and obsessive or repetitive routines and interests. The majority of the specialists agree that the earlier the intervention, the better.
© 2010 Steps Therapy Inc. - All rights Reserved.