AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

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AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. It begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people with ASD often have difficulty with communication and interaction with other people, restricted interests and repetitive behaviors and symptoms that affect their ability to function in school, work and other areas of life.

Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. It varies from individual to individual. For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversation skills whereas others may be nonverbal. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others can work and live with little to no support.

People of all genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds can be diagnosed with ASD. It’s a condition that affects both children and adults. If left untreated, ASD could worsen in severity. The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children be screened for ASD at their 18- and 24-month well-child checkups. Research shows that starting an intervention program as soon as possible can improve outcomes for many children with autism.

What causes Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

 

The exact cause of ASD is unknown. The most current research demonstrates there is no single cause. Some factors that are associated with an increased likelihood of developing ASD include:

  1. Having a sibling with ASD
  2. Having older parents
  3. Having certain genetic conditions (such as Down syndrome or Fragile X syndrome)
  4. Having a very low birth weight
  5. Having a maternal history of viral infections
  6. Metabolic imbalances

What are the signs and symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Symptoms of ASD typically become clearly evident during early childhood, between ages 12 and 24 months. However, symptoms may also appear earlier or later. Early symptoms may include a marked delay in language or social development. People with ASD have difficulty with social communication and interaction, restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.

Social Communication/Interaction behaviors may include:

  1. Avoiding or not keeping eye contact
  2. Not responding to name by 9 months of age
  3. Not showing facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
  4. Not playing simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age
  5. Using fewer or no gestures by 12 months of age like not waving goodbye
  6. Not sharing interests with others by 15 months of age like showing you an object that they like
  7. Not pointing to show you something interesting by 18 months of age
  8. Not noticing when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age
  9. Not noticing other children and join them in play by 36 months of age
  10. Not having pretend play skills like pretend to be a superhero or a teacher during play by 48 months of age.

Restrictive/ repetitive behaviors may include:

  1. Lining up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed.
  2. Repeating words or phrases over and over (called echolalia)
  3. Playing with toys the same way every time
  4. Focusing on parts of objects (for example wheels of car)
  5. Becoming upset by slight changes in a routine and having difficulty with transitions
  6. Repeating movements like rocking, flapping their arms, spinning or running back and forth
  7. Being more or less sensitive than other people to sensory input such as light, sound, clothing or temperature
  8. Having obsessive interests

People with ASD may also experience additional symptoms:

  1. Delayed movement, language or cognitive skills
  2. Hyperactive, inattentive or impulsive behaviors
  3. Unexpected mood or emotional reactions
  4. Unusual eating habits or preferences
  5. Unusual sleep patterns
  6. Epilepsy or seizure disorder
  7. Anxiety, stress or excessive worry
  8. Lack of fear or more fear than expected
  9. Gastrointestinal issues (for example, constipation or diarrhoea)

Note: Not all people with ASD will have all behaviors, but most will have several of the behaviors listed above

How common is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased dramatically in recent decades. The Centre for Disease Control announced in 2021 that the rate of autism in the U.S. during 2018 was 1 child in 44. This is a notable rise from rates given for 2016 (1 in 68), 2008 (1 in 88) and 2000 (1 in 150). Prevailing theories suggest that the rise is largely due to increased awareness and diagnosis of autism rather than a massive increase in overall occurrences of ASD.

Myths v/s Facts about ASD

MYTH

FACT

Autism is a disease.

Autism is not a disease. It is a neuro-developmental disorder that can manifest itself in communication impairment or difficulty in social skills and interaction. Autistic people can still live independent, meaningful and healthy lives, especially with the aid of therapy and professional intervention.

Individuals on the autism spectrum do not have feelings and thus are unable to show affection.

Individuals on the autism spectrum can and do give affection. However, due to differences in sensory processing and social understanding, the display of affection may appear different from typical people

People with autism cannot form relationships.

Although social interaction is impaired in people with ASD, this does not mean they cannot form relationships with others. Individuals with ASD can and do have fulfilling relationships with family, friends, spouses and children.

Autism is caused by poor parenting.

Though the exact cause of autism has not been determined but the development of autism has nothing to do with the parenting style

People with Autism have an intellectual disability and can’t speak.

Autistic people are all different in their ability and exist along a spectrum. Some people with autism do also have an accompanying intellectual disability and some people don’t. Some autistic people can speak and communicate verbally, others can’t. There is a wide range of skills, abilities and communication levels among people on autism spectrum.

  

References

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/support/

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd

https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-response-team-art

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)


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