Autism is a group of similar conditions that affect 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 also, so severe that it may be disabling.
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 mode that includes questions and tasks.
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.
- Environmental factors:
As previously mentioned, each individual with autism has unique challenges, and so, their requirements are very varied. 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.
Medications may be prescribed by the healthcare provider to treat individual symptoms the child/ person experiences.
Sadly, the awareness regarding this disorder is very low even among 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.
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