Autism is a developmental condition in which the brain does not process the sounds, sights, and smells like an average person. This results in behaviors that are considered socially awkward.
- Lack of eye contact when you feed your child
- No cooing, babbling, smiling by 12 months age
- Not responding to their name
- The child has no facial expressions by 9 months of age
- No pointing or waving by 12 months
- The child does not speak by 16 months
- The child prefers to play alone
- The child does not like being touched
- Prefers fixed routines and even a minor change may upset them greatly
- Has trouble understanding feelings or talking about them
- No gestures, such as waving or pointing fingers
- Regression on milestones: A child that previously displayed all the above behaviors stops exhibiting them suddenly.
- Stimming: Your child shows certain repetitive behaviors like head flapping, twitching of the eyelid, twirling, flapping their hands, spin in circles.
What causes autism?
Autism or autistic spectrum disorder is a condition in which the individual cannot process sound, colors, and emotions like an average person. This causes them to have mannerisms like poor speech, anger issues, and certain repetitive behaviors (picking skin, twirling, neck movements).
Autism is diagnosed in childhood at around two years of age. Rarely, it may not be diagnosed until a person is an adult.
The following factors may predispose a person to develop autistic behaviors:
- Genetic factors: Scans show differences in brain shape and structure in people with autism. Scientists think these changes are genetic (a part of a child’s deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA). It is more common if a relative is affected by the autistic spectrum.
- Environmental factors: Autism is more frequently observed in the children conceived to the parents who were aged more than 35 years. If a mother has taken drugs like Thalidomide or antipsychotic drugs during pregnancy, the chances of autistic disorder in a child are high.
How to diagnose
There is no single test that can be used to diagnose autism.
- Evaluations rule out hearing problems, speech, and language problems. These evaluations are very important because autism has a big effect on overall communication skills.
- Checklists and surveys from parents, school staff, and other doctors who have observed the person in various situations. The questionnaires ask about the person’s behaviors, relationships with others, body use, verbal communication, and play habits.
- The modified checklist for autism in toddlers, revised with follow-up (M-CHAT-R/F) is a brief checklist of yes/no items for early detection among children 16 to 30 months of age.
- Autism diagnostic interview-revised (ADI-R) is a semi-structured interview with the child’s parents used by a trained specialist to help make a definitive diagnosis.
- Autism diagnostic observation schedule-generic (ADOS-G) is a structured interview with directed activities also used by a trained specialist to help make a definitive diagnosis.
- The childhood autism rating scale (CARS) observes a child’s behavior and uses a 15-point scale to evaluate a child’s relationship to people, body use, and adaptation to change, listening response, and verbal communication.
- Think Asperger test is a brief screening tool in a portable mobile app format that aids in the informal detection of autism for parents, teachers, and medical professionals.
- As per the latest research, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI and a few blood tests may help a doctor diagnose a patient with autism. However, the research is still in clinical trials.
How to treat autism
The goal is to reduce symptoms and improve their learning and development.
- Applied behavior analysis (ABA): This is usually followed in schools and clinics. It helps the child respond appropriately to positive behaviors and reduce the negative ones.
- Developmental, individual differences, relationship-based approach (DIR): It is meant to support emotional and intellectual growth by helping him learn skills around communication and emotions. This kind of treatment involves the parent or caretaker getting on the floor with the child to play and do the activities they like.
- Treatment and education of autistic and related communication-handicapped children (TEACCH): This treatment uses visual cues, such as picture cards, to help the child learn everyday skills like getting dressed.
- The picture exchange communication system (PECS): It uses symbols instead of picture cards. The child learns to ask questions and communicate through special symbols.
- Occupational therapy: This treatment helps the child learn life skills like feeding and dressing himself, bathing, and understanding how to relate to other people. The skills he learns are meant to help him live as independently as he can.
- Sensory integration therapy: If the child is easily upset by things like bright lights, certain sounds, or the feeling of being touched, this therapy can help him learn to deal with that kind of sensory information.
- Medications: There is currently no medication to treat it. However, some medicines can help with related symptoms like depression, seizures, insomnia, and trouble focusing.
- Risperidone (Risperdal): It can be prescribed for children between 5 and 16 years old to help with irritability.
- Some doctors will prescribe other drugs in certain cases, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antianxiety medications, or stimulants, but they are not United States Food and Drug Administration-approved to treat autism spectrum disorder.
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html
Top Early signs of autism Related Articles
Anxiety DisordersAnxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
Anxiety & Panic Disorders: Risk Factors for AnxietyDo you feel anxious? Many things could make it more likely. Learn more, including what you can do if you feel anxious.
Anxiety, Stress, and WorryWhat is the definition of anxiety, stress, and worry? Find treatments to relieve stress, eliminate worry, and combat anxiety as you discover how stress affects your body. Learn whether stress fights colds or encourages them, why some stress is bad and some is good, and why exercise and diet can be relaxing.
Autism Spectrum DisorderAutism in children and adults is a developmental disorder, characterized by impaired development in communication, social interaction, and behavior. Autism is classified as a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), which is part of a broad spectrum of developmental disorders affecting young children and adults. There are numerous theories and studies about the cause of autism. The treatment model for autism is an educational program that is suitable to an individual's developmental level of performance. There is no "cure" for autism.
Autism SlideshowWhat is autism? Learn about the signs, symptoms, and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Get information about the causes of autism and available autism treatment options.
Autism QuizTake the Autism Spectrum Disorder Quiz related to the causes, reasons, symptoms, treatment, diagnosis, and therapies for this behavioral disorder.
Differences: Autism and Pervasive DevelopmentPervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) are a set of behavioral disorders that are present since early childhood. Although there is an overlap in the features of autism and PDDs, PDDs typically do not meet “all” the criteria for classical autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Both PDDs and autism cause a “socially awkward child.”
Autism: Early Signs and SymptomsAutism is known as a condition that falls under the category of the "autism spectrum disorders" because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior of an individual. Autism is said to be a "developmental disorder" because the signs and symptoms of the disorder generally appear in the first two years of life. However; toddlers, teens, and adults also can have autism.
Early signs and symptoms can vary amongst infants, babies, toddlers, teens, and adults that may include; no eye contact, not responding to his or her name; doesn’t babble or “baby talk”; does not use language correctly; rocking; twirling; and head banging.
A Visual Guide to Generalized Anxiety DisorderLearn about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). See if your worries are normal or something more by learning about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments of anxiety disorders.
How Do I Parent My 3-Year-Old with Autism?Parenting a young child with autism can feel stressful. Parent your 3-year-old with autism by understanding autism, using positive reinforcement, and getting support.
What Are the 3 Main Symptoms of Autism?Autism or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) can manifest as different symptoms in different children. The average age of diagnosis is 2 years, though some children may be detected at around 5 years of age.
What Are the Signs of Asperger's in Adults?Asperger's syndrome is a diagnosis that was once given to those who had trouble with social interactions. People diagnosed with Asperger's also had obsessive interests and enjoyed repetitive activities. Asperger's is a type of autism without intellectual or language impairment. The best treatment for Asperger's is therapy and medication.
What Is It Like to Be a Parent of an Autistic Child?When you are the parent of a child with autism, the challenges multiply. Being a parent of an autistic child may cause you to feel guilt, grief, anxiety, frustration, and anger.
Why Does a Person Become a Hoarder?Hoarding is a severe psychological disorder where a person gathers an excessive number of items and stores them. The reasons someone become a hoarder include altered brain connections, genetics, stress, OCD, environmental factors and altered levels of serotonin.
Why Is Autism Increasing Dramatically?ASD includes a broad spectrum of disorders that affects social skills, speech, movement, learning, cognition, mood and behavior. Rates of autism are increasing dramatically because of increased awareness and screening, better access to healthcare and broadened diagnostic criteria.