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Autism: Seeing the World from a Different Angle

Author: Dr. Vasantha K S - Emotional and Mental Health  

Contents


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.

Signs and Symptoms

  1. Slow development.
  2. Delayed speech.
  3. Does not make eye contact.
  4. Facial expressions can be plain.
  5. Lower awareness of other's feelings.
  6. May resist cuddling
  7. Prefers to play alone.
  8. Pursues a single activity with great focus.
  9. Sensitive to changes in schedule.

Diagnosis

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.

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.

  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:

  1. Being born severely pre-term.
  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.

Typical Behavior

  • Repetitive movement is a common indication that they are upset or insecure.
  • Prefers sticking to a routine and gets upset if there is a minor change.
  • Have a stiff body language and facial expression.
  • Difficulty in balance and coordination.
  • Highly sensitive to loud noises, some smells, and bright lights.
  • Maybe less sensitive to pain and temperature.
  • Over-attention and focus on certain objects or activities.
  • Very specific about taste and texture of food.

Therapy

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.

  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.

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.

For more information consult an autism specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/psychiatrist/autism

Image: Autism: Seeing the World from a Different Angle Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018

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