What is Autism?
Autism is also known as Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD refers to a varied range of conditions. The person who has Autism suffers from the challenge of social skills, nonverbal communication & repetitive behavior.
Each individual who has ASD is different on its own terms. Each has their own unique symptoms, deficiency, and abilities. This forms a range of characteristics of behavior.
For persons who are suffering from ASD, their abilities and deficit fall anywhere in this range of characteristics & that is why Autism is also called Autism Spectrum disorder.
In India, 1 in 500 is diagnosed with Autism. There are 21.6 lakh people in India who have Autism currently. (Rehabilitation Council of India ).
On World Autism Awareness Day, let us talk about what Autism is and what are its symptom, its causes & its available treatments.
What is the main cause of Autism?
The main cause of Autism is still a matter of research for scientists. Yet here are some factors that may cause Autism:-
1) Genetic & hereditary causes:- Genes play a role in Autism Spectrum disorder. Mutations in genes can cause Autism.
2) Environment Factor:- Scientists are currently researching whether outside conditions like air pollution, viral infection, etc can cause autism.
3) Having an immediate family member who is autistic.
4) Exposure to heavy metals.
What tests are done to diagnose Autism Spectrum disorder?
It is recommended that children of age 18-24 months go through screening for Autism.
Modified Checklist for Autism in toddlers (M-CHAT) is a screening tool that many Pediatricians use. In this screening test, Parents fill out a 23 question survey.
Pediatricians then asses based on the response, who might be at a higher risk of being Autistic.
Pediatricians may also recommend these tests:-
1) DNA test
2) Behavioral evaluation testing.
3) Occupational therapy screening.
What are the main symptoms of Autism?
Symptoms of Autism clearly become visible during the age of 12 months to 24 months in the life of a child.
From birth, if the child is not able to maintain eye contact, then it can be a symptom of Autism.
By 9 months:-
1) Not responding to their name-calling
2) No facial expression during emotions ( like surprise, etc)
By 12 months:-
1) Using only a few hand gestures
By 24 Months:-
1) Not sharing their interest with others. Have less interest in others.
2) Not looking where others are pointing
Other symptoms include:-
1) Repetitive movements like flapping their arms or spinning.
2) Unusual reactions to sound smell & taste input
3) Repeating words they heard from someone obsessively
4) Keeping objects in ordered manner & getting upset when it is disturbed.
What is the most effective treatment for Autism? Can Autism be cured with therapy?
Unfortunately, no cure exists for autism. Autism can only be managed with experts intervention and children’s therapy services.
Treatment available in present scenario helps a person with autism to manage the symptoms better. Early diagnosis and starting treatments early can help a child manage the Autism Spectrum disorder. The best chance for a child to live a normal life is through therapy treatment.
Therapy treatments include:-
Behavioral & communication therapy:- There are many programs that can address the variety of social, language, and behavioral difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorder.
There are some programs that teach children coping strategies for different situations; there are other programs that teach children skills, such as interpersonal communication and appropriate conduct in public places.
One example would be applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA is based on reward-based motivation system and encourages autistic children to do things themselves without needing constant supervision.
Family therapies:- Family therapy teaches parents and other family members how to engage with their children in ways that promote social skills, manage problem behaviors, and teaches basic life skills.
Medication:- No medicine can help with autism spectrum disorder. However, some medicine like antidepressants can be given for anxiety. If the child is having serious behavioral problems, antipsychotic drugs can be used. However, always consult your doctor before giving any medicine as it can have severe side effects.
At Nirmal Hospital, you will find the best pediatrician in Surat with experienced therapists and doctors to manage Autism spectrum disorder in children. Listen experts talk about Autism Here:-