Autism is also known as ‘autism spectrum disorder’(ASD) and it refers to a series of symptoms differentiated by challenges with speech, social and nonverbal communication and also repetitive behavior. Children suffering from autism have divergences in the mode their brains grow and process information. There are many types of autism that are caused due to miscellaneous combinations of genetic and ecological influences.
Each type is different from the other, so no two children develop the same kind of autism. This is why scientists call it a ‘spectrum’ of symptoms.
Sometimes it’s not easy to detect autism early therefore the revered Academies of Pediatrics propose doctors to look for signs of autism in each and every visit. 16 months is the age from which screening can begin and some of the signs are:
Not being able to interact, relate to others or play.
Odd playing habits
Not interested in eye contact with others, it may be of very short span
Unusual body movements
Developmental delays or loss of growth
Not giving attention to objects by pointing at those
Not understanding child language
Signs of autism are first noticed by the parents or caregivers and mostly it’s in the first 3 years. Autism is congenital but still it’s sometimes difficult to identify during infancy. As they grow into toddlers, signs start showing.
According to recent research, genes play a very big role in autism development but it may not directly pass down from parents to children. Kids who have it in genes might develop autism when exposed to anything unknown in the environment. Some studies have also shown that autism is cased by vaccines, allergies and viruses but all the theories remain scientifically unproven.
In the early days doctors were not aware of autism but now most pediatricians are, due to more research on it. Early intervention is a must. As a part of the treatment there are speech, educational, behavioral and occupational therapies that are customized. Before age 3 there are home based intervention programs whereas after 3 years, kids can avail preschool services where different therapeutic programs are conducted.
Once a child is detected to have autism, there are various healing techniques and therapies that doctors perform. First the parents are informed and the therapists interact with the kid. The child is evaluated so that the doctor knows the capabilities related to communication and learning as compared to other kids of same age. No blood test or brain scan is done.