Autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a life long developmental disability. It is a Neurodevelopment disorder, characterized by challenges with social interactions, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Parents often notice signs of autism during the first three years of their child’s life. These signs often develop gradually, though some autistic children experience regression in their communication and social skills after reaching developmental milestone at a normal pace.
Causes of Autism
Autism can be said to be caused by a bunch of physical factors, that affects the brains development, there are also suggestions that autism may be attributed to genetics, though the gene or genes responsible have not been identified by scientists.
Symptoms of Autism
Signs of Autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism. The symptoms include:
- Abnormal Body Posturing or Facial Expressions
- Abnormal Tone of Voice
- Avoidance of Eye Contact or Poor Eye Contact
- Behavioral Disturbances
- Deficits in Language Comprehension
- Delay in Learning to Speak
- Flat or Monotonous Speech
- Inappropriate Social Interaction
- Intense Focus on One Topic
- Lack of Empathy
- Lack of Understanding Social Cues
- Learning disability or Difficulty
- Not Engaging in Play With Peers
- Preoccupation With Specific Topics
- Problems With Two-Way Conversation
- Repeating Words or Phrases
- Repetitive Movements
- Self-Abusive Behaviors
- Sleep Disturbances
- Social Withdrawal
- Unusual Reactions in Social Settings
- Using Odd Words or Phrases
Types of Autism
Understanding what different kinds of autism there are can help you detect early signs in your child. With a growing number of children receiving an autism diagnosis, the first step is identifying what type of autism a child has in order to help them live an enjoyable and successful life.
The different kinds of autism include:
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder
- Kanner’s Syndrome or Classic Autistic Disorder
- Asperger’s Syndrome;
- Rhett Syndrome, although this has been removed from the spectrum;
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
This form of autism is generally less severe than others. Children with this type of autism may have experienced delays in benchmarks, such as speaking or walking, and often lag behind other children who are on pace to hit their developmental milestones. Children with PDD-NOS are able to manage the symptoms of this milder form more easily than those who have been diagnosed with the more pervasive forms of autism.
Kanner’s Syndrome is the type of autism most people think of when picturing children on the autistic spectrum. This type of autism is also known as Classic Autistic Disorder, and its symptoms can include challenges communicating or understanding others, engaging in virtually no eye contact, and a hypersensitivity to stimuli (smell, light, noise, taste, or touch).
Children who have been diagnosed with Kanner’s Syndrome display a profound need for routine and often display no interest in the world around them. These children turn their attention inward and show little desire to interact with others.
People with Asperger syndrome usually have milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
Rett’s Syndrome was disqualified as a part of the autism spectrum in recent years.
However, it primarily affects girls and begins to become evident around 6 months old.
Symptoms associated with Rett’s Syndrome include social communication and an impaired ability to use one’s hands (such as difficulty with gross and fine motor skills or repetitive hand and arm flapping), symptoms that are also indicative of autism spectrum disorders.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
Perhaps, you have heard stories of children who are developing on pace and hitting all of their developmental benchmarks when they suddenly hit a wall and begin regressing around the age of two.
This type of autism can seem especially crushing for parents as it often spawns confusion and fear. Children who once seemed to be developing well, were socially interactive, and talked and made eye contact suddenly cease being themselves and shut down. Doctors postulate a correlation between this type of autism and disorders resulting in seizures.