A guide to Autism.
Updated: Jul 28
As per the Centers for Disease Control, 1 out of 54 children in the United States of America is affected by Autism.
So, what is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) also known as “Autism,” relates to a Mental Health condition that is characterized or is defined in a way where a person suffers some social challenges due to some identified repetitive behaviours that are expelled through his or her speech and nonverbal way of communication.
There are many sub-types of Autism as influenced by a lot of factors that range from genetic and on to the environment. An “autistic” person bears a distinct personality, carrying various strengths and weaknesses. People with autism have learning skills that can range from an extremely highly skilled problem solver or maybe severely challenged.
Symptoms of Autism may include but are not limited to the following.
Cannot commit to deliberate eye contact with another person.
Interest span on any subject is limited.
Immense and intense attention is given on certain or particular subjects or topics.
High repetition of acts, doing an action over and over and cannot stop or limit unnecessary bodily movements.
Sensitivity to touch, smell and sounds, something that may be normal for an ordinary person but is highly sensitive upon receipt to an autistic person.
It is difficult for an autistic person to pay attention to a person who talks to him or her.
An autistic person dislikes being held in one place or position and dislikes to be cuddled.
Trouble or struggles with adapting to some changes in daily routines.
So, What Causes Autism?
Though unclear, it is thought that the risk factors for Autism relate to events even as early as the pregnancy. Exposure to potential triggers especially for pregnant women in their first trimester, should be minimised. Ultimately, what a mother takes in during her pregnancy is shared altogether with her unborn child. Genetic and epigenetic factors have also been looked into along with possible triggers in the environment after birth.
Screening and Diagnosis of Autism.
A doctor can assess your child through a developmental screening which measures a child’s speaking behaviour, movement and learning skills. It is advisable by medical experts to have a child screened as early as 9 months and should be screened every year from thereafter. If a child shows signs of autism, a complete evaluation is needed. There are vision or genetic tests that can be done. Your doctor may also bring in the help of a psychiatric or psychological expert to further assess a child or even an adult’s mental health.
Treatment for autism may range from behavioural or communication therapy to promote positive growth and behaviour. Occupational therapy can help with social behaviour and Sensory integration therapy can help with developing an autistic person’s reaction to touch, sight or sound. Speech therapy can also help in the improvement of an autistic person’s communication skills.
If your child is autistic or if you sense that your child has autism, get help from your doctor. Your general practitioner can tap specialists on mental health which includes psychiatry or psychology services. Call your family doctor and get the help you or family need, today.