Autism

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Overview

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or simply Autism, is a developmental disorder of the brain which affects the person’s social skills, particularly their ability to communicate. It is called a spectrum because symptoms vary greatly in terms of severity and types. Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative syndrome, and some other disorders are now classified within this spectrum. While incurable, early detection and effective treatment can have a huge impact on an autistic child’s life.

Causes

Exact mechanism behind autism is unknown. It is believed to be a combination of genetic, developmental, and environmental factors.

Certain risk factors that are associated with autism are:

  • Male gender
  • Extremely pre-term birth
  • Family history
  • Other disorders (Rett syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Tuberous sclerosis)

Symptoms

Some common signs in autistic children are the following:

  • Fails to respond to own name
  • Resists co-playing, prefers solitary company
  • Poor eye contact and facial expressions
  • Difficulty speaking and poor conversational skills
  • Inability to express emotions and feelings
  • Repetitive or stereotyped movements
  • Fixation on objects or ideas
  • Odd movement patterns and co-ordination problems
  • Sensitive to light, sound, or touch

Diagnosis

If your child’s doctor notices any developmental delay in regular check-ups, they may refer the case to a specialist in autism spectrum disorders to diagnose conclusively. Diagnosis is mainly made on the basis of the clinician’s observation, some mental and developmental assessment test, and DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorder) defined criteria.

Treatment

Main goal of this disease revolves around reducing the autistic symptoms and signs and incorporating the child into the world with as much improvement in social and communication skills as possible. A number of types of psychotherapies and behavioral exercises can be utilized by a specialist.

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