Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), more popularly known as Autism is a relatively common yet complex neurological disorder. Autism in children is quite common and there are lots of autistic people in the society for whom life is difficult. Understanding autism symptoms, autism treatment methods, the causes and types- gives the normal civilian perspective of their world and with that, the challenges that such people have to face on a daily basis. Parents of autistic children share this anguish. Autism in children may not be able to be cured but there’s still something that every individual can do to make the lives of such children easier. This article deals with what autism is, autism symptoms, autism treatment methods, the causes and types- learn, grasp and be empathic at the very least.
Table Of Contents
What Is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, is an extremely neurobiological disease. It’s an impairing disease- there’s no hiding that. Autism patients lack a proper understanding of social skills and thus, find it extremely difficult to fit into a society. Speech impairment, illogical behaviour, inability to communicate- these are some of the challenges that autism patients tackle on a daily basis.
The people who suffer from autism are called autistic people. To help them fit into society, in many countries the social structure has been restructured to accommodate the autistic and other such people who are impaired by mental diseases.
Autism In Children
Autism symptoms in children begin to appear between the ages of two and three. However, in certain cases autism symptoms in toddlers were to be seen- the toddlers being aged just 18 months. The biggest problem that autistic children face is with regards to communication. It’s a big problem as communication plays the role of glue in our society. Today, in many parts of the problem of how to deal with autistic children is being dealt extremely nicely. To lessen the impact of autism in children- special schools are being set up for these children where they will get the care and attention that they need to help them feel a part of society.
Causes Of Autism
ASD is an extremely complicated disorder. One of the reasons for that being is the confusion that lies behind its causes. Even today, researchers are studying the different possible causes for autism. Based on today’s knowledge- the main causes of ASD could be:
‣ Genes - a combination of genes that passes down in a family.
‣ Old age at the time of conception of the baby (father or mother).
‣ Exposure to certain drugs at the time of pregnancy.
‣ Other disorders
With all this being said- researchers still aren’t a 100% sure about what is that really causes autism in children.
Types Of Autism
Here’s where the complexity of ASD stretches on. The ambiguity in its causes alone doesn’t justify the title of ‘complex disorder’. Autism is now called autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because it encompasses many different types of social disorders all which are linked to the same syndrome that causes autism. The different disorders that compile into ASD are:
‣ Autistic Disorder: Characterised by communication and social behaviour children- found in children younger than three years old.
‣ Asperger’s Syndrome: Characterized by social problems and lack of interest. No communication problem and average or above average intelligence displayed.
‣ Pervasive Developmental Disorder: Characterized by generic autistic symptoms- no clear-cut symptoms, classified as such when the autism symptoms in toddlers don’t fit into any of the other types.
Autism in children or autism symptoms in toddlers will present themselves to parents in two main forms: social problems and communication problems. Here again, the holistic definition of the word ASD comes into play. ‘Spectrum’ in ASD speaks of the different timelines at which autism symptoms in toddlers appear. Sometimes autism symptoms are seen very early on but if one’s to look at the general norm, the symptoms are more prominently identifiable when children are between the ages of one to three. Breaking down autism symptoms into let’s take a look at them now:
Social Problem Symptoms (In children aged between 8-10 months)
‣ Inability to comprehend and respond to their name by the time of their first birthday.
‣ Lack of focus and interest when in conversation with others.
‣ Doesn’t like to be disturbed when alone.
‣ Detests physical contact.
‣ Fails to appreciate and understand the concept of comforting when in distress.
‣ Inability to understand emotions.
Communication Problem Symptoms
‣ Lack of variation in tone while speaking.
‣ Late development of speech and language skills.
‣ Repeating of the same words and sentences, again and again.
‣ Inability to understand how to use pronouns.
‣ No reaction to general universal gestures to waving (i.e cannot understand the meaning of these gestures).
‣ Frequent straying away from the topic of discussion.
‣ Difficulty in understanding different forms of communication (eg. laughter, sarcasm etc.)
Additionally, autism symptoms in toddlers also appear in the form of differences in behavioural pattern. Such autism symptoms include:
‣ Restlessness and repetitive movement of body parts.
‣ Inexplicable hyper-activeness.
‣ Overdependence on rituals and habits.
‣ Random fixation over things.
‣ Fussy and aggressive behaviour.
‣ Dislike of physical contact.
Autism Treatment Methods
With everything covered- from types of autism to autism symptoms- it’s now time to look at the different autism treatment methods available to autistic people. Autism treatment is all about therapies- therapies, therapies and more therapies. The therapies can be divided into two: (a) early intervention therapies and (b) therapies for children and preschoolers.
(a) Early Intervention Therapies: Autism in children should be treated as soon as it’s identified. Early intervention therapies are autism treatment therapies designed especially for toddlers and babies. The two most popular such therapies include Lovaas Model and Early Start Denver Model.
(b) Therapies For Children And Preschoolers: Autism treatment in children should start very early on. Starting with treatment early on has its benefits. While the impact of the treatment method may differ from person to person- the benefits are proven. Following activities will fall under autism treatment for children:
‣ Minimum of 25 hours of therapeutic training in a week.
‣ Appointment or exposure to professional and experienced therapists.
‣ Treatment module set up with training objectives which are regularly reviewed. Child’s performance is measured against these objectives.
‣ Provide children with autism opportunities to interact with other autistic children.
‣ Specific therapy to address the specific area of deficiency. For example: Children who suffer from Asperger’s syndrome may only need help to tackle social problems and generate interest in topics.
‣ Greater involvement of parents in the entire autism treatment process.
‣ Showing the child to various different doctors- speech therapist, physician etc.