Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are complex disorders of brain development. It is characterized in varying degrees like social interaction difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and verbal and non verbal communication. While attention and motor coordination difficulties, intellectual disability, and physical health issues are linked and associated to ASD, it is also a proven fact that people with ASD sometimes excels in music, math, arts, and visual skills. The group Autism Speaks is an organization that helps fund the research on the effective methods and diagnosis of autism. The group also wants to increase autism awareness in order for other people to understand better what autism and autism spectrum disorder is all about.
Is Autism Common?
Around the world, tens of millions of people are affected with autism and ASD. In the United States, ASD affects more than 3 million people. According to the statistics conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 68 American Children are considered to be on the autism spectrum. Also, according to the study conducted by the CDC, autism is 4-5 times more common to boys than girls. It is estimated that in the United States alone, 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 89 girls are affected with autism. A study was also conducted by the U.S. government and it was found out that people diagnosed with ASD and autism have been increasing by more than 10 percent every year. It is believed that the improved diagnosis and understanding on ASD and autism are the main reason of this increase.
What Causes Autism?
The advancement in the field of medical technology and research has done wonders in identifying what causes autism. Scientists have identified a number of rare genes that is associated with autism. These rare genes that the scientists have identified can change and mutate and even just a single mutated gene can cause autism. Autism can also be caused by a combination of autism risk genes as well as environmental factors that can influence early brain development.
Symptoms of Autism
1. Communication Difficulties
Children with autism tend to be delayed in learning how to speak and using gestures compared with children without autism. Infants who would later be diagnosed to have autism may start to coo and babble during their first 2-3 months and then they lose these communicative behaviors. Children with autism also will also learn to speak much later compared to other children. With the help of therapy, a person with autism can learn how to speak and communicate without much problem.
2. Repetitive Behaviors
Repetitive behavior is also another symptom of autism. The most common repetitive behaviors include:
- Hand flapping
- Arranging and rearranging objects
- Repeating sounds and words
3. Sensory Processing Problems
A Person with autism usually finds it difficult to process and integrate sensory information like sound, smell, taste, and movement. His responses towards these senses are unusual and different compared to people without autism.
The tendency to eat things that are not food is what you call Pica. To children ages 1-2 years old, this is normal. But people with autism will continue to eat things that are not considered as food. Like clay, chalk, dirt, and even paint.
How Is Autism Treated?
Every person who was diagnosed to have autism is unique. That is why treatment and medicines vary from each individual. Most people with autism may also suffer from seizures, sleep disturbance, and gastrointestinal distress. When these conditions are addressed, their attention and learning capabilities are greatly improved.
A person with autism needs the support and understanding of the whole family. When a child is diagnosed to have autism, his whole family should work closely with a professional for the Child’s early intensive behavioral intervention program. In this program, the therapist will deliver the service. The service will include teaching the parents on how to do the therapy sessions and also letting the parents do the therapy sessions themselves for their child under the supervision of the therapist. This program can also be done in a special therapy centers.
As the child grows and develops his social and learning skills, the child’s intervention program will also change. Schools that specialize on different social skill trainings with specialized approach in training are the best schools for a child diagnosed with autism.
Other medications used to address symptoms or other disorders in children with autism approved by the FDA for children.
- Sertraline (for children with obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- Fluoxetine (for children age 8 and older for the treatment of depression)
Many children with autism grow to be successful adults with the help, support, understanding, guidance, and love that are given to them by their families.
Help spread awareness about autism with a handmade autism awareness paracord bracelet and at the same time, help employ a disabled U.S. veteran.