Autism is a neurological disease that interferes with a child’s behavioral, social and communicative development. It falls under a group of disorders that delays the development of various basic skills. The most notable delay is the ability to interact with others.
The number of children getting affected from autism is rapidly rising. About 1 in 68 children (CDC survey) have been linked with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Moreover, ASD is more active in boys (1 in 42) as compared to girls (1 in 189). According to different studies, an average of 1% children is affected with ASD in Asia, Europe, and North America. Therefore, it becomes all the more essential for parents and families to have precise and updated knowledge about Autism because being knowledgeable is in itself a precaution.
Warning Signs of Autism
Autism symptoms are clearly visible before a child turns 3 but in some cases they appear right from the birth. Then there are those children who develop quite well initially only to slip suddenly into the symptoms when they are 18 to 36 months old. Most common symptoms of autism include:
- Unresponsiveness to his/her name
- Difficulty in verbal communication and understanding language
- Difficulty in interacting with people around
- Zero facial expression and poor eye contact
- Acting as if deaf fails to respond to verbal cues
- Prefers to stay alone and unable to make friends
- Doesn’t understand simple questions or directions
- Cannot start a conversation
- Unable to express feelings or emotions
Along with above mentioned points, there are some behavioral changes
in an autism affected child:
Causes of Autism
- Constantly moving
- Repeats moves such as spinning, hand-flapping, head-banging, rocking etc
- Glued to an object or perform irregular activities
- Sensitive to touch, light or sound
- Unusual food preferences
Till date, a single known cause of autism has not been identified. Given the extremity of the disorder, and the fact that there are different symptoms, there can be multiple causes.
When to see a neurologist?
- Genetic factor: Different genes have been associated with causing autism. In some children, genetic disorder such as X syndrome is linked with autism. For others, it is a matter of genetic changes that causes autism.
- Environmental factor: Scientists are continuously working upon a theory that relates viral infections, air pollutants and complication during pregnancy in triggering autism.
Kids have their own growth pace and many of them don’t follow typical guidelines. But children with autism generally show signs within 1st year. If you suspect your child with autism, have a consultation with an experienced neurologist
. The doctor may suggest some developmental tests
if your child fails to:
Available treatments for autism
- Respond to a happy expression by 6 months
- Mimic sounds by 9 months
- Utter a single word by 16 months
- Acquire language skills at any stage
- Doesn’t play by 18 months
Unfortunately, there is no cure for autism and no one-size-fits-all treatment. The sole purpose of treatment is to maximize your child’s ability to function by minimizing autism symptoms and supporting growth and learning. However, your neurologist can help you explore some treatment options in the form of:
- Communication therapy: Many programs focus on social and behavioral problems associated with autism. Some address these issues by teaching new skills and other focus on teaching how to act wisely or how to converse better. It is difficult to withstand symptoms of autism but with right teaching children can learn to function well.
- Educational therapy: Children with autism respond exceedingly well to these highly structured educational programs. There are a number of qualified specialists who indulge in improving communication, behavior and social skills. Children who become a part of such programs often show positive results.
- Family therapy: There are various educational programs available for parents and family members where they can enroll and learn how to interact with their children in promoting social skills, manage problem behaviors and more.
- Medications: Medicinal cure is still unavailable but certain medications can help control symptoms. For instance, antidepressants can take care of anxiety issues, anti-psychotic drugs can look after behavioral problems.
Regrettably, there’s no way one can prevent autism. There are treatments and programs available that can help children cope with symptoms throughout life. If your child is one of the unlucky ones, don’t get disheartened. It may be the right time to consult a neurological expert