Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by impaired intellectual ability, difficulties in motor coordination, and attention and physical health issues. Autism has its roots in early brain development of the fetus. Symptoms of autism emerge during 2-3 yrs of age. Symptoms are: • Social impairments • Inability to communicate • Repetitive behavior • Sensory abnormalities • Unusual eating habits
HOW IS AUTISM DIAGNOSED?
Psychiatrists diagnose autism based on behavior and other symptoms. Several instruments are available for confirming diagnosis, such as, Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, which are based on observation and interaction with the child. The Childhood Autism Rating Scale is a widely used clinical assessment scale for various types of autism. Clinical genetics may also be done for confirming the diagnosis.
HOW IS AUTISM TREATED?
Early treatment of ASD can help reduce difficulties by learning new skills and by utilizing the patient’s strengths. There are various approaches that can help the patient which include applied behavior analysis (ABA), developmental models, structured teaching, speech and language therapy, social skills therapy, and occupational therapy. Medication is used for the treatment to help with irritability, aggression, repetitive behavior, hyperactivity, attention problems, anxiety and depression.
DID YOU KNOW?
Autism affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism. These figures are growing globally. It is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders. There is no cure or medical treatment for Autism.
Autism is a critical neurodevelopmental disorder that diminishes communication and interaction abilities.
Autism is incurable and chronic, but the right treatment may be beneficial.
Autism spectrum disorder affects the nervous system and impacts the overall emotional, physical, cognitive and social health of the individual affected by the autism symptoms.
What causes autism is not exactly known, but research over the years have pinpointed certain genetic and environmental factors. Some studies have found out that genetic predispositions can lead to autism, while other studies suggest the following factors—
1. The immune system may produce antibodies inappropriately that harm the brain which causes autism in children.
2. Anomalies in brain structure can lead to autistic behaviours.
3. Abnormal growth of the brain can also cause autism. The brain in normal children grow at a faster rate than children who suffer from autism symptoms.
Autism symptoms usually start appearing before age 3 in children. Symptoms can be mild or severe. The general autism symptoms include—
1. Problems in communicating verbally, including difficulty in using and comprehending language.
2. Participation in conversation is difficult for the child, even if he/she can speak.
3. Problems in communicating nonverbally, such as facial expressions and gestures.
4. Problems with social interaction, including difficulties in relating to his/her surroundings and to people.
5. Difficulty in making friends
6. Absence of imagination
7. They develop unusual ways to play with toys and objects.
8. Adjustment issues, especially to familiar surroundings or routine.
9. Repetitive behavioural patterns or body movements.
10. Preoccupation with strange objects.
A subtype of autism is Asperger’s syndrome. Earlier, it was thought to be separate from autism, but later Asperger’s Syndrome was grouped together with autism spectrum disorder.
Asperger’s Syndrome is on the high functioning tip of the spectrum. Children and adults affected by Asperger’s have normal cognition but they find interacting socially very difficult. They also exhibit a limited interest range and display repetitive behaviours.
The symptoms of Asperger’s include—
1. Difficulty in social interactions
2. Challenges in communicating
3. Repetitive behaviours is common, and so is the tendency to engage in it
4. Affected individuals have unusual responses to stimulation. They find it difficult to process and integrate sensory stimuli, or information, such as sounds, sights, smells, movement and/or taste.
5. A tendency to eat inedible foods, called pica, is another symptom. Affected individuals try to eat anything that is not food, such as clay, paint chips, dirt or chalk.
Genetic disorders are a common problem that shows up in children with Asperger’s. Angelman Syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis are some disorders that eventually plague affected individuals. Other than that, sleep dysfunctions are also common.
If you find developmental delays in your child, autistic tests are done to find out whether the delay is caused by autism, other autism spectrum disorder, or some kind of avoidant personality disorder.
Some of the autistic tests that are done include—
1. Behavioral assessments
2. Physical assessments
3. Laboratory tests
ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) therapy is a common treatment for autism. ABA therapy is used to treat autism symptoms in both children and adults.
What is ABA therapy?
This therapy focuses on teaching how learning principles work. Positive reinforcement is one of the principles. Positive reinforcement is the method of rewarding expected behaviour. When your child learns that his behaviour can earn his rewards, he/she will start repeating that behaviour more.
Autism and Asperger’s may not be curable, but you can cope with them. Lybrate offers you the best psychologists, neurologists and counsellors available in Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Faridabad and Ghaziabad to provide the best consultation and treatment. Subscribe to Lybrate to know more about autism.
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