Things To Know About Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) broadly refers to various neurodevelopmental disorders. These disorders have associated problems that affect communication and the individual’s social interaction. People who have autism, in most cases, have repetitive, restricted, and stereotyped interests or patterns of behavior. Autism can affect anyone anytime, anywhere, regardless of culture, race, or economic background. However, it has been observed that it affects more boys than girls in the ration of 4:1, respectively. Experts and researchers fear that instances of autism are on the rise and can be attributed to environmental factors. Some experts argue that an increased number of diagnoses might be the reason for the apparent increase in the number of people living with autism.
There are different subtypes of autism spectrum disorder. There is ASD with or without intellectual impairment, autism with accompanying language impairment and ASD associated with genetic, environmental, or medical conditions. Autism can also be associated with other neurodevelopmental, behavioral, and mental disorders. Other forms of ASD are associated with catatonia. An individual can be diagnosed with one or more of these ASD specifiers. Individuals with the autism spectrum might be diagnosed with any of the following disorders, namely autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive development disorder, or childhood disintegrative disorder.
The symptoms of autism are normally more evident during early childhood at the age between twelve and twenty-four months. In some unusual cases, symptoms might appear earlier or later than the mentioned age range. Early symptoms of autism might include noticeable delays in language and social development. People might have issues with communication, such as difficulties in sharing their emotions and maintaining an intelligible back and forth conversation. Some symptoms might be difficult to grasp, such as difficulty in maintaining eye contact, issues with non-verbal communication as well as an understanding of body language.
The people might also have trouble forming and maintaining relationships. Some of the repetitive and restricted patterns of behavior include rigid adherence to particular routines and behaviors and an increase or decrease in sensitivity to particular sensory information from the environment like an adverse reaction to a particular sound. The individual might also exhibit fixated preoccupations and interests. Individuals living with autism can be evaluated depending on the severity of their symptoms. To get an ASD diagnosis, the suspect individual should display three symptoms in the first category and two symptoms in the second category.
The exact cause of autism has remained unknown to date. Researchers are yet to find a single cause for the neurological condition. However, some of the risk factors include having a close family member with autism, fragile X syndrome, genetic mutations, being born to older parents, and low birth weight. Metabolic imbalances, history of viral infections, exposure to environmental toxins, and heavy metals, as well as exposure to some medications such as valproic acid or thalidomide (Thalomid), are some other autism risk factors.
Generally, both environmental and genetics determine the development of autism. The ASD diagnosis involves numerous screenings, evaluations, and genetic tests. It is recommended that all children undergo testing for autism between the ages of 12 to 24 months. When early screening is done, there is early identification of the ASD, and they can be helped to feel better through specialized therapies that alleviate symptoms.