Autism Spectrum Disorder
- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 29 views
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. The term “spectrum” in Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.Autism Spectrum Disorder includes conditions that were previously considered separate â€” autism, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and an unspecified form of pervasive developmental disorder. Some people still use the term “Asperger’s syndrome,” which is generally thought to be at the mild end of autism spectrum disorder.Autism Spectrum Disorder begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society â€” socially, in school and at work, for example. Often children show symptoms of autism within the first year. A small number of children appear to develop normally in the first year, and then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months of age when they develop autism symptoms.While there is no cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder, intensive, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
-Some children show signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in early infancy, such as reduced eye contact, lack of response to their name or indifference to caregivers. Other children may develop normally for the first few months or years of life, but then suddenly become withdrawn or aggressive or lose language skills they've already acquired. Signs usually are seen by age 2 years.Each child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior and level of severity â€” from low functioning to high functioning.Some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have difficulty learning, and some have signs of lower than normal intelligence. Other children with the disorder have normal to high intelligence â€” they learn quickly, yet have trouble communicating and applying what they know in everyday life and adjusting to social situations.Because of the unique mixture of symptoms in each child, severity can sometimes be difficult to determine. It's generally based on the level of impairments and how they impact the ability to function.
Below are some common signs shown by people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Social communication and interaction
- A child or adult with autism spectrum disorder may have problems with social interaction and communication skills, including any of these signs:
- Fails to respond to his or her name or appears not to hear you at times
- Resists cuddling and holding, and seems to prefer playing alone, retreating into his or her own world
- Has poor eye contact and lacks facial expression
- Doesn't speak or has delayed speech, or loses previous ability to say words or sentences
- Can't start a conversation or keep one going, or only starts one to make requests or label items
- Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm and may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
- Repeats words or phrases verbatim, but doesn't understand how to use them
- Doesn't appear to understand simple questions or directions
- Doesn't express emotions or feelings and appears unaware of others' feelings
- Doesn't point at or bring objects to share interest
- Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being passive, aggressive or disruptive
- Has difficulty recognizing nonverbal cues, such as interpreting other people's facial expressions, body postures or tone of voice
Patterns of behavior
-A child or adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder may have limited, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities, including any of these signs:
- Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand flapping
- Performs activities that could cause self-harm, such as biting or head-banging
- Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change
- Has problems with coordination or has odd movement patterns, such as clumsiness or walking on toes, and has odd, stiff or exaggerated body language
- Is fascinated by details of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car, but doesn't understand the overall purpose or function of the object
- Is unusually sensitive to light, sound or touch, yet may be indifferent to pain or temperature
- Doesn't engage in imitative or make-believe play
- Fixates on an object or activity with abnormal intensity or focus
- Has specific food preferences, such as eating only a few foods, or refusing foods with a certain texture
-As they mature, some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder become more engaged with others and show fewer disturbances in behavior. Some, usually those with the least severe problems, eventually may lead normal or near-normal lives. Others, however, continue to have difficulty with language or social skills, and the teen years can bring worse behavioral and emotional problems.
When to see a doctor
-Babies develop at their own pace, and many don't follow exact timelines found in some parenting books. But children with autism spectrum disorder usually show some signs of delayed development before age 2 years.If you're concerned about your child's development or you suspect that your child may have autism spectrum disorder, discuss your concerns with your doctor. The symptoms associated with the disorder can also be linked with other developmental disorders.
-Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder often appear early in development when there are obvious delays in language skills and social interactions. Your doctor may recommend developmental tests to identify if your child has delays in cognitive, language and social skills, if your child:
- Doesn't respond with a smile or happy expression by 6 months
- Doesn't mimic sounds or facial expressions by 9 months
- Doesn't babble or coo by 12 months
- Doesn't gesture â€” such as point or wave â€” by 14 months
- Doesn't say single words by 16 months
- Doesn't play "make-believe" or pretend by 18 months
- Doesn't say two-word phrases by 24 months
- Loses language skills or social skills at any age
-Your child's doctor will look for signs of developmental delays at regular checkups. If your child shows any symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, you'll likely be referred to a specialist who treats children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as a child psychiatrist or psychologist, pediatric neurologist, or developmental pediatrician, for an evaluation.
Because Autism Spectrum Disorder varies widely in symptoms and severity, making a diagnosis may be difficult. There isn't a specific medical test to determine the disorder. Instead, a specialist may:
- Observe your child and ask how your child's social interactions, communication skills and behavior have developed and changed over time
- Give your child tests covering hearing, speech, language, developmental level, and social and behavioral issues
- Present structured social and communication interactions to your child and score the performance
- Use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association
- Include other specialists in determining a diagnosis
- Recommend genetic testing to identify whether your child has a genetic disorder such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome
-No cure exists for Autism Spectrum Disorder, and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. The goal of treatment is to maximize your child's ability to function by reducing Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms and supporting development and learning. Early intervention during the preschool years can help your child learn critical social, communication, functional and behavioral skills.The range of home-based and school-based treatments and interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder can be overwhelming, and your child's needs may change over time. Your health care provider can recommend options and help identify resources in your area.
-If your child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, talk to experts about creating a treatment strategy and build a team of professionals to meet your child's needs.
Treatment options may include:
- Behavior and communication therapies. Many programs address the range of social, language and behavioral difficulties associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder.Some programs focus on reducing problem behaviors and teaching new skills. Other programs focus on teaching children how to act in social situations or communicate better with others. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) can help children learn new skills and generalize these skills to multiple situations through a reward-based motivation system.
- Educational therapies. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder often respond well to highly structured educational programs. Successful programs typically include a team of specialists and a variety of activities to improve social skills, communication and behavior. Preschool children who receive intensive, individualized behavioral interventions often show good progress.
- Family therapies. Parents and other family members can learn how to play and interact with their children in ways that promote social interaction skills, manage problem behaviors, and teach daily living skills and communication.
- Other therapies. Depending on your child's needs, speech therapy to improve communication skills, occupational therapy to teach activities of daily living, and physical therapy to improve movement and balance may be beneficial. A psychologist can recommend ways to address problem behavior.
- Medications. No medication can improve the core signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder, but specific medications can help control symptoms. For example, certain medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive; antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems; and antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety. Keep all health care providers updated on any medications or supplements your child is taking. Some medications and supplements can interact, causing dangerous side effects.
Managing other medical and mental health conditions
-In addition to Autism Spectrum Disorder, children, teens and adults can also experience:
- Medical health issues. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may also have medical issues, such as epilepsy, sleep disorders, limited food preferences or stomach problems. Ask your child's doctor how to best manage these conditions together.
- Problems with transition to adulthood. Teens and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder may have difficulty understanding body changes. Also, social situations become increasingly complex in adolescence, and there may be less tolerance for individual differences. Behavior problems may be challenging during the teen years.
- Other mental health disorders. Teens and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder often experience other mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Your doctor, mental health professional, and community advocacy and service organizations can offer help.
Planning for the future
-Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder typically continue to learn and compensate for problems throughout life, but most will continue to require some level of support. Planning for your child's future opportunities, such as employment, college, living situation, independence and the services required for support can make this process smoother.