Emotional and Mental Health

Autism: Seeing the World from a Different Angle

Written by
Dr. Vasantha K S
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Mar 26, 2018 and last reviewed on May 23, 2020   -  4 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Autism affects many children, making them unable to have a good academic career. Still, there are many legends who turned their wounds into wisdom. Read the article to know more.

Autism: Seeing the World from a Different Angle

What Is Autism?

Autism is a group of similar conditions that affects communication, interaction, behavior, language skills, and development. It is now referred to as autism spectrum disorder due to the broad range of symptoms and variations in its severity. That is, it may be so mild that the child can go well into adulthood without being diagnosed as well, so severe that it may be disabling. It could be a serious developmental disorder. The symptoms may have low influence when they are treated at the beginning age.

What Are the Causes?

Research to determine the exact cause is still in its early stages. But, just as we have many types of autism, we have multiple causes. It is now understood to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Genetic Factors:

It is not a single gene, but multiple genes that are involved. The most common genetic factors are:

  1. It can be linked to a genetic brain disorder.

  2. In some cases, a genetic mutation may be the cause.

  3. Some other genes that affect brain development in children.

Environmental Factors:

The commonly involved environmental factors are:

  1. Being born severely preterm.

  2. Advanced parental age.

  3. Infection in mother during pregnancy.

  4. Exposure to drugs, toxins, and pollutants during early childhood or of the mother during pregnancy.

Signs and Symptoms:

  1. Slow development of brain, speech, and other related behaviors.

  2. Delayed and slurred speech.

  3. The patient does not make proper eye contact.

  4. Facial expressions can be plain and unexplanatory.

  5. Lower awareness of one’s own feelings and feelings of others.

  6. May resist cuddling and physical touch.

  7. Prefers to play alone, due to poor social interaction and well being.

  8. Pursues a single activity with great focus.

  9. Repeated hand movements like hand flapping.

  10. Sensitive to changes in schedule.

How do Autism Patients respond to Touch?

The patients with autism have a general aversion towards the touch. But their response towards touch can be highly unpredictable.

  • A light touch can be unpleasant to them in general, it seems to be more unpleasant when the touch gets deeper.

  • Unexpected touch, even from parents, siblings or a loved one, could give them an uncomfortable and obnoxious feeling.

  • A new touch from any acquaintances or from complete strangers, even if is not meant to be comfortable or reassuring, is to some degree accepted by the patient.

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How Can It Be Diagnosed?

Diagnosing autism very early is difficult as a delay in achieving milestones are the only notable symptoms early on. This is especially hard for those not specifically trained to detect it. Unfortunately, this may cause a delay in parents seeking therapy and initiating intervention. There are no specific blood or imaging tests to diagnose ASD. Doctors use a specific evaluation model that includes questions and tasks. Doctors might take help from the Diagnosis and statistical manual book (DSM).

Behavior Changes in Autism Patients:

  • Repetitive movement is a common indication that they are upset or insecure.

  • Prefers sticking to a routine and gets distressed and upset if there is a minor change.

  • Have a stiff body language and plain facial expression.

  • Difficulty in body balance and coordination.

  • Highly sensitive to loud noises, some specific smells, and bright lights.

  • Maybe less sensitive to pain and temperature.

  • Over-attention and focus on certain objects or activities.

  • Very specific about the taste and texture of the food.

Famous Personalities With Autism:

You or your child are not the only ones. Look at the list of people who made wonders in spite of their disabilities. Knowing them may be a motivation to many. Taking them as examples we may overcome the issues with autism. There is something special about autistic people.

  • Dan Aykroyd – A good comedic actor.

  • Christian Andersen – An author for children.

  • Benjamin Banneker – African American author, farmer, naturalist and surveyor.

  • Lewis Carroll – Author of a famous english fiction “Alice in Wonderland.”

  • Susan Boyle – Singer.

  • Charles Darwin – Naturalist, geologist, and biologist.

  • Henry Cavendish – Scientist.

  • Paul Dirac –A physicist.

  • Albert Einstein – Scientist and mathematician.

  • Emily Dickinson – A poet.

  • Bobby Fischer – Grandmaster in chess.

  • Bill Gates – Co-founder of the Microsoft company.

  • Temple Grandin – A popular scientist.

  • Steve Jobs – A former CEO of Apple company.

  • Alfred Kinsey – A biologist and sexologist.

  • Michelangelo – Sculptor, architect, poet, and artist.

  • William Butler Yeats – A great poet.

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Classical music composer.

  • Jerry Seinfeld – Comedian.

  • Nikola Tesla – The great inventor of alternating current.

  • Sir Isaac Newton – Mathematician, physicist, and an astronomer.

  • Ludwig Wittgenstein – An Austrian philosopher.

What Are the Treatment Options?

As previously mentioned, each individual with autism has unique challenges, and so, their requirements are much varied. The child will need complete emotional, physical and tender care from the parents. The parents must stay motivated throughout life in properly engaging their kids. It is essential to customize the treatment to suit their personal needs. Treatment involves both therapy and medicines that help improve their communication skills and overall development.

  1. Behavior therapy.

  2. Communication therapy.

  3. Social skills classes.

  4. Education therapy.

  5. Family therapy.

  6. Speech therapy.

  7. Occupational therapy.

  8. Physical therapy.

Occupational therapy will focus on the stimulation of sensorimotor functions. Enhancing these functions will enable the person to improve the overall mental health.

Medications:

Medications may be prescribed by the Psychiatrist, to treat individual symptoms the child or person experiences. Medications may be required only during the crisis period. It is not recommended to depend on medications all the time.

Sadly, the awareness regarding this disorder is very low even among the medical and paramedical fraternity. This causes a delay in diagnosis and initiation of treatment. There have been numerous cases of misdiagnosis with a similar mental health disorder as well. For this reason, understanding by the family and public is crucial. If you are a parent and suspect your child to have trouble in many aspects of social skills, it is prudent to consult a professional with vast experience in this field.

Facing any issues related to autism, call a doctor online.

Frequently Asked Questions


1.

What Are the Important Characteristics of Autism?

- Autism children have difficulty understanding any type of non-verbal communication.
- They have difficulty understanding appropriately in social interactions.
- Trouble developing, understanding and maintaining relationships with others.
- Problems with social interaction with others.
- They have an unusual interest in common objects.

2.

What Are the Causes of Autism?

There are multiple causes of autism.
- Having a close family member with autism.
- Mother, whose age is more and that mother giving birth to a baby.
- Few genetic mutations.
- Imbalance in metabolism.
- Viral infections.
- Certain medications.

3.

What Are the Behaviors of Autism?

The behaviors of autism patients will be restricted and repetitive.
- Repetitive movements of the body (e.g. spinning, rocking, and flapping).
- Compulsively staring at lights.
- Organized and perfectionist behaviors (e.g. arranging the objects in an order).

4.

Can Autism Be Treated Permanently?

Behavioral therapies are known to improve mental health conditions. There is no specific medication identified for autism. But some medications are known to help with symptoms like depression, insomnia, and seizures. When therapy is known to be combined with the medication, the results are most effective.

5.

At What Age Can Autism Be Noticed?

The behavioral symptoms appear early in the stage of development. Most of the children are known to show the symptoms by 12 months, or by 18 months maximum. ​Developmental disturbances can be seen in babies. They lack social and language skills.

6.

How Do Children Get Autism?

Some studies show that autism develops from various genetic and nongenetic causes. The etiology might be environmental reasons also. The risk of this disorder depends on the cause. Viral infections to the mother during pregnancy might also result in autism.

7.

What Is Mild Autism?

Patients with milder grades (level 1) of autism may not require much support. These patients have noticeable issues with communication skills. They have difficulty understanding the emotions of others. The lower the degree, the less support someone may need. The patients with level 2 or 3 autism might face moderate to severe symptoms and require additional support.

8.

What Is High Functioning Autism?

Though many kids with autism lead a normal life, a patient with severe grade is known as an autistic child with high functioning autism. These patients might never learn to speak clearly or make eye contact. But the word “High-functioning autism” is not a proper medical term for diagnosis

9.

How Do I Know If My Child Has ADHD?

There are few signs which are indicative of ADHD in children. Parents should look for these signs in children.
- Self-focused behavior.
- Interrupting others when they are speaking to others.
- Absence of focus.
- Emotional instability having temper tantrums.
- Fidgeting around all the time.
- Problems remaining quiet.
- Daydreaming.
- Forgetfulness.

Last reviewed at:
23 May 2020  -  4 min read

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