Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a number of conditions with a characteristic impairment of social behaviour. There are also impairments in language and communication. These impairments, as well as a narrow range of specific interests (for example, collecting toy cars) and activities, are unique to the individual and are carried out repeatedly over time.
In commemoration of the World Autism Day, we will examine some key points relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders.
What Causes Autism?
A particular cause of autism has not been found. A number of factors such as genetic (inherited) factors and environmental factors may increase the chances of developing autism in a child.
While there is a link between older parental age and autism, it is clear is that childhood vaccines are not responsible for the development of autism in children.
Who Is Affected By Autism Spectrum Disorders
Globally, about 1 in 160 children have autism spectrum Disorder, according to the World Health Organization.
Some studies suggest that this number may even be higher.
The number of cases of ASD seen in hospitals around the world is increasing globally due to a number of reasons, chiefly the increased awareness on the part of parents and caregivers. Autism is commoner in boys and affects children from every race and region of the world.
Autism Spectrum Disorders impacts the individual?s capacity to function and participate fully in society. In about 50% of cases, individuals with ASDs also have intellectual disabilities. This affects their ability to get an education and be employed. Individuals with ASDs may also have other medical problems like anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy.
The impact of autism on their overall life is variable as some individuals with autism are able to live independently after a while. Others may require life-long support and care.
Symptoms of Autism
A child with autism may:
- Avoid contact and prefer to be alone
- Have trouble adapting to a new routine of environment
- Repeat a particular action over and over
- Repeat words over and over
- Have trouble relating with other people
How Are Autism Spectrum Disorders Diagnosed?
Autism Spectrum Disorders are noticed in childhood, usually before the fifth year of life but possible after the age of two. There are no medical tests to diagnose autism.
It may persist into adolescence in some cases and subsequently, adulthood. Individuals who have ASDs have difficulties with social interactions, are often by themselves and reduced to a few interests even as adults.
How Is Autism Treated?
A cure for autism is not available. However, parents and caregivers are offered relevant information and support by healthcare professionals. This is aimed at reducing the difficulties in communication, social behaviour and improving their quality of life.
Without parental input, managing ASDs may be difficult or even impossible. Parents help ensure the child can get access to the necessities of life, education and healthcare whenever necessary. Early intervention and support are very important in helping affected individuals live a near normal life.