Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder that affects development in communication and behavior. Autism has to be diagnosed and can typically be diagnosed at any time as long as the individual receives proper testing from a medical professional. The symptoms of autism usually reveal themselves within the first two years of life and generally become more prevalent as the child ages.
Individuals with ASD have:
- Communication and interaction difficulties
- Limited interests and tend to repeat behaviors
- ASD individuals typically have difficulty functioning at work, school, or in relationships.
Autism has a wide range of symptoms that many of the individuals face. This range is referred to as the autism spectrum. The spectrum categorizes symptoms as mild or all the way to severe. The impact can touch all backgrounds and it is a disorder that individuals will have to deal with for life. However, therapy and treatment are available to help ASD individuals lead a normal life or lessen the impact of the symptoms that they face.
Signs and Symptoms of ASD
- Inability to make eye contact
- Poor listening skills
- Lack of enjoyment
- Failure to respond or lapse in response when their name is called
- Difficulty holding a conversation
- Lingering one sided conversations about subjects that only interest them
- Inability to connect nonverbal and verbal communication
- Unique tone of voice
- Reputative speech or actions. For instance, repeating words or phrases
- Acute interest in topics that interest them with the ability to recant the information in detail
- Aggravated by changes in habits or routines
- Light sensitivity or other sensitivities to clothing, temperature, or noise
- Disturbances in sleep patterns
Causes and Risk Factors
There is not a known cause for ASD, but there may be a genetic tie that explains its development in some individuals. Environmental impact is also known to be a contributor as well and there have been a number of research projects that to try to understand why some individuals are more prone to develop the disorder and others not. Here are some risk factors that may determine why some individuals develop ASD:
- Sibling with ASD
- Older parents
- Genetic conditions such down syndrome
- Low birth weight
ASD is diagnosed by looking at an individual’s behavior and development. Screenings and tests are ordered to confirm the observations by parents, teachers, or medical professionals. Once a diagnosis is made, then all parties work together to develop a suitable treatment plan to treat the disorder. ASD is not preventable nor curable but there can be treatment methods customized for the benefit of the specific individual to help them manage the disorder on a daily basis. Many individuals who are school age utilize the support of special education teachers to help customize a learning environment for children with ASD.
With the help of a therapist, parents can help children with ASD manage their behavioral issues, social skills, and conflict resolution skills that involve positive reinforcement. Some therapists may recommend other treatment tools such as speech, occupational, and physical therapy. Some instances require medication. The recommendation is that children with ASD receive at least 25 hours or therapy a week.