What is autism (autism spectrum disorder)?
Autism is a group of neurodevelopmental disorder. ASD disorders include problems with communication and social interactions. People with ASD often exhibit limited, repetitive, and stereotyped interests or patterns of behaviour.
ASD is found in people around the world regardless of race, culture, or economic background. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is more common in boys than in girls, ranging from 4 to 1 male. The CDC estimates in 2014 that 1 in 59 children will be diagnosed with ASD.
Types of autism
The DSM-5 currently identifies five different ASD subtypes or specifiers. They are:
- With or without intellectual impairment.
- With or without language impairment.
- May be related to a known medical or genetic condition or environmental factor.
- Associated with another neurodevelopmental, mental, or behavioural disorder.
- With Catatonia.
Anyone can make a diagnosis with one or more specifications.
Before DSM-5, individuals in the autism spectrum suffered from the following disorders:
- Autistic disorder
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Extensive developmental disorder-not specified (PDD-NOS)
- Childhood fracture disorder
It is important to note that a person who has had one of these previous diagnosis has not lost their diagnosis and does not need to be re-examined.
According to DSM-5, the broadest diagnosis of ASD involves disorders such as Asperger syndrome.
Symptoms of autism
Symptoms are usually evident in childhood, between 12 and 24 months. However, symptoms may appear sooner or later. Early symptoms may include a significant delay in language or social development.
Problems with communication and social interaction:
- Difficulties in sharing emotions, problems with communication such as sharing interests or conducting back-to-back conversations.
- Nonverbal communication problems such as maintaining eye contact or reading body language.
- Difficulties in developing and maintaining relationships.
Restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour or activity:
- Repetitive movements or speech patterns.
- Strict adherence to specific routines or behaviours.
- Increased or decreased sensitivity to specific sensory information from their surroundings, such as an adverse reaction to a particular sound.
- Fixed interests or foresight.
Individuals in each category are evaluated and the severity of their symptoms is determined.
The exact cause of ASD is unknown. Current research shows that there is no single cause.
Some suspected risk factors include:
- Genetic mutations
- Crisp X syndrome and other genetic defects.
- Low birth weight.
- Metabolic imbalance.
- Exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins.
- History of viral infections
- Fetal exposure to drugs valproic acid (depaquine) or thalidomide (thalidomide)
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), both genetics and environment determine whether an individual develops autism.
The diagnosis of ASD involves various screenings, genetic tests, and evaluations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children under the age of 18 and 24 be screened for ASD. Screening can help identify children with ASD at an early stage. These children can benefit from early diagnosis and intervention.
The Modified Checklist for Young Child Autism is a common screening tool used by many pediatric practices. It is important to note that screening is not a diagnosis. Children who test positive for ASD do not have the disorder. Also, screening tests sometimes do not identify all children with ASD.
Other demos and tests
Your paediatrician may recommend a combination of tests, including:
- DNA testing for genetic diseases.
- Behavioural assessment
- Visual and audio tests that rule out vision and hearing problems.
- Occupational therapy screening
- Developmental questionnaires such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Program (ADOS)
The diagnosis is usually made by a team of experts. This group may include child psychologists, occupational therapists, or speech-language pathologists.
There are no “cures”, but treatments and other treatment considerations can help people feel better or reduce their symptoms.
Therapies include several therapies:
- Behaviour therapy
- Play therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech therapy
Meditation techniques can also trigger relaxing effects. However, treatment results vary.
- High doses of vitamins.
- Chelation therapy, which removes metals from the body.
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Melatonin to solve sleep problems.
- Research on alternative therapies is mixed and some of these therapies are risky.
Before investing in any of them, parents and guardians should weigh the financial and research costs against any interest.
Does diet affect autism?
A specific diet has not been developed for people with ASD. However, some autism advocates are exploring dietary changes that can help reduce behaviour problems and improve the overall quality of life.
The basis of the autism diet is avoiding artificial additives. These include preservatives, colourings, and sweeteners. Autism is a disorder that affects more and more people.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean poultry
- Unsaturated fats
- Too much water
Some autism advocates also endorse a gluten-free diet. It is found in wheat, barley, and other grains.
Those attorneys believe that gluten causes inflammation and adverse physical reactions in some people with ASD. However, scientific research on the relationship between autism, gluten, and another protein called casein.
Some studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that diet may help improve symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), similar to autism.
How does autism affect children?
Children with autism may not reach developmental milestones similar to their peers, or they may lose the social or language skills they previously developed.
For example, a 2-year-old with autism may be interested in simple games that make him feel safe. A 4-year-old without autism may enjoy participating in activities with other children. A child with autism may have difficulty communicating with others or may not like it at all.
Children may engage in repetitive behaviours, have trouble sleeping. They are difficult to thrive without a structured environment or a consistent routine.
If your child has autism, you should work with their teachers to help them be successful in the classroom. There are many resources available to help children with autism and their loved ones.
Local support groups can be found through the local non-profit The Autism Society. It Speaks also offers specific toolkits for parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends of children.
Autism and exercise
Children may find that certain exercises play a role in reducing depression and promoting general well-being. Any type of exercise that your child enjoys can be useful. Ideal both for walking and for having fun in the playground. Swimming can be helpful for both exercise and sensory play activities.
How does autism affect girls?
Due to the specific gender prevalence, it often becomes a disease in children. According to the CDC, ASDs are 4 times more common in boys than girls.
Does not mean that not occur in girls. In fact, the CDC estimates that 0.66 per cent or 1 in 152 girls have autism. It is a disorder that affects more and more women. Compared to the last few decades, It has been tested more frequently before and now. This leads to a higher rate in boys and girls.
Why autism awareness is important?
April is World Autism Awareness Month. It is also considered National Awareness Month in the United States. However, many attorneys need to raise awareness about ASDs throughout the year, not just for select 30 days. It Is different for everyone.
Some therapies work for some but not for others. Parents and guardians have different opinions on the best way to advocate for children with this disease. Understanding people with autism and the spectrum starts with awareness, but it doesn’t end there.