Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) refers to several developmental disabilities that affect the brain. Typically, individuals with autism experience challenges in communicating, forming social connections, grasping abstract concepts, and language development problems.
As a spectrum disorder, autism has many subtypes based on a combination of varying genetic and environmental factors. Each of these subtypes exhibits distinctive symptoms, challenges, and strengths. As a result, autistic individuals are either highly adept or severely challenged in solving problems.
ASD subtypes include Asperger syndrome, classical autism, childhood integrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. However, classical autism is the most severe form of ASD. In most cases, ASD symptoms manifest by the age of 3 or earlier with these symptoms impairing the ability of a child to develop normally.
Individuals with ASD experience problems in three key areas: behavior, language, and social interactions. Initially, parents or caregivers first detect these symptoms in teens and children. Over the teenage years, however, these symptoms may change with teens gaining improved social and coping skills.
Based on a victim’s age, exhibited symptoms may vary which affects its treatment and diagnosis. Even so, a standard set of symptoms are common in ASD. Here is a list of these symptoms.
ASD’s behavioral symptoms include:
– Constant and restless movements: fidgeting, spinning, hand flapping
– Difficulties in comprehending and learning
– Development of specific routines, which when disrupted upsets the victim
– Heightened sensitivity to light, touch, or sound with increased resistance to pain
– Reluctance to participate in imaginative or interactive play
– Over fascination with spinning objects
– Odd dietary habits
– Obsession with certain subjects or topics
– Running away from caregivers or parents
– High levels of anxiety and depression
– Sleep deprivation
People living with ASD exhibit the following language deficiencies:
– Inability to understand simple requests or directions
– Lose of previously acquired ability to speak
– Little or no eye contact when asking for items
– Awkward speech patterns characterized by a sing-song voice or monotone
– Repetition of words with a reduced indication of how to use them
– Inability to imitate or initiate conversations
– Little or no eye contact
– Difficulty responding or remaining attentive when spoken to
– Inability to create friendships with peers
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– Little or no interest in engaging with others
– Inability to show empathy
– Prefers engaging in activities alone
– Self-absorption-retreating from the reality
– Rarely asking for help when in difficulties
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Nowadays, researchers link several genes to the development of ASD. As a result, people with these genes are more susceptible to the condition, with some genes affecting how brain cells develop or communicate. Similarly, other genes determine the severity of a victim’s symptoms. Although genes account for a limited number of persons living with autism, in combination, they have a substantial effect on its development. Although genes are hereditary, genes may affect an individual adversely.
Typically, many children and teens with ASD may exhibit all or some of the co-occurring disorders. Among the most common comorbid disorders are:
– Anxiety disorders
– Susceptibility to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
– Manic depressive disorders
– Learning and socialization difficulties
– Developmental coordination challenges
Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder is a daunting task for caregivers and parents too. Why is that so? This is because no blood tests are available for diagnosing it. Usually, caregivers assess a child’s behavior and development to diagnose the condition. Sometimes, ASD is detectable in children at the age of 18 months or lower. However, reliable diagnosis occurs at the age of 2 years. Even so, the majority of children do not receive this diagnosis until they are much older. As a result, a late diagnosis delays the provision of much-needed help to children with ASD.
In most cases, diagnosing ASD involves two steps:
– A developmental screening procedure and;
– A comprehensive diagnostic evaluation
In this diagnosis process, healthcare professionals test children to determine whether they have basic learning skills or they are impaired. Often, doctors question parents or guardians, test, and play with a child to gauge their level of learning, speaking, and behavioral skills. Any detected delays indicate the possibility of a child having ASD.
Developmental screening should occur at the ages of 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months. Additional tests are necessary where a child has a higher likelihood of contracting ASD due to birth complications, is of low birth weight, or where the enumerated risk factors are present.
Besides that, all children should have a developmental screening conducted during regular doctor visits at the ages of 18 or 24 months. If a child has a sibling with ASD or ASD symptoms are present, more tests are critical to ensuring its proper diagnosis and management. Where a doctor overlooks the developmental screening, parents should insist on one. Upon detecting ASD symptoms, it is time for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.
A second step involved in the diagnosis of ASD is the Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation. During this evaluation, the doctor conducts a thorough review of a child’s behavior, development, as well as interviewing the parent. Besides, doctors may perform genetic testing, neurological testing, hearing, and vision screening among other tests.
In a majority of cases, a child’s primary care doctor might refer the child to a specialist for further diagnosis and assessments. Referral specialists include:
– Child Neurologists
– Child Psychologists/Psychiatrists or
– Developmental Pediatricians
After the successful diagnosis of ASD, treatment should begin immediately. Beginning ASD treatment soon after its diagnosis helps reduce the severity of its side effects, enables a child to learn new skills, and increases their ability to cope with the disorder.
ASD complications and other factors determine what treatment measures to use and their effectiveness. This is why parents need to work closely with their primary caregivers to develop a management plan. However, the following therapy options are available:
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Doctors may prescribe medication for managing the symptoms of ASD. Through this option, people with ASD may have less severe issues with:
– Attention deficit disorders
– Depression and anxiety
– Repetitive behavioral problems
Another effective ASD management approach entails referring patients to behavioral, educational, and psychological specialists. Through these specialists, patients benefit from intensive and highly structured programs that integrate siblings, parents, and other family members. For example, specialist programs can help people living with ASD:
– Learn skills that can help them to live independent, full, and productive lives
– Minimizes the severity and impacts of challenging or debilitating behaviors
– Increase or strengthen existing skills
– Learn essential communication, language, and social skills
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As discussed earlier, ASD is a very complex disorder with its implications, impact, needs, causes, and interventions that vary across individuals. Research findings enable a shift in perceptions about treatment and the undertaking of ASD. In the past, society regarded ASD as just another intellectual disability. But enhanced research findings have resulted in its recognition as a significant public health problem.
Although currently, we do not know its causes, in-depth research is ongoing to find its root causes, develop early interventions to reduce its impact on individuals with ASD and their families. Besides that, healthcare professionals, guardians, and parents are recognizing that many of its symptoms are manageable, which maximizes their ability to enjoy productive and socially fluent lives.
Regardless of the severity of one’s impairment, there is hope!
“Always try to avoid excessive sugar, food dyes & coloring
This article on Autism disorder, and how we can better understand it, has been a true pleasure articulating to each and every parent that has a child affected, or as a stepping stone to parents who have a concern about the possibility of their child’s affliction.
As I stated early there are ways to detect the disorder early, as this will help alleviate the fun potential, if little or nothing was done in the early stages. Always remember to eat right and try to stay away from any hazardous chemical regions while pregnant, and certainly stay away from drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.
Please always remember the importance of a medically sound pregnancy. Once again exposure to toxins and many medications, such as valproic acid, and thalidomide, have been linked to ASD, Leaky Gut has also been questioned. This affliction is certainly on the rise, as with many other diseases, so let us seek a more natural approach to our better health for today. along with moderate exercise, and plenty of water, “no soda”.
In today’s world it is imperative to start paying more attention to the ingredients within our purchases, take a look into canned goods as well, the knowledge will be shocking. Before looking into any antidepressant medication, take a dive into some of the known side effects, many have been black box labeled, the most serious of warnings is suicide
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I hope to hear from you soon, sincerely, Jack Butler, founder of betterhealthfortoday.com