The world health organization declared about one in 100 children has autism, and more children are being diagnosed with autism now than ever. If not detected and managed early enough, this health condition may result in lifelong consequences and decrease a patient’s quality of life.
This article explores what autism is, who’s likely to be diagnosed with it, its signs, symptoms, and treatments. Let’s get started!
What is autism?
Autism, fully known as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a medical condition where a person has communication and social behavior issues.
It is a combination of several different neurodevelopmental conditions and is caused by impairments in the development of the brain. As a disorder, autism is largely attributed to genetic factors.
Autistic people have difficulty interacting with other people. They often engage in repetitive acts and prefer a narrow set of interests compared to variety.
ASD can affect anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or geography. It can present itself as a challenge in everyday life. Many cases of autism require special treatment approaches.
Hence, it’s essential to know what causes autism in children, as well as its symptoms. This will help recognize when it’s present in a child and the proactive steps to take to prevent extensive disability or complications and improve the well-being of autistic people and their loved ones.
Autism spectrum disorder in children can be recognized by symptoms of repetitive interests or behavior patterns. Autistic children also manifest atypical ways of acting when moving, paying attention, or learning.
Here’s a comprehensive list of symptoms and signs of autism in children:
- They avoid eye contact with people while communicating.
- They are not interested in various things or topics but prefer to narrow their interests to a few things.
- You’ll find them repeating certain words or actions, like flipping a switch countless times every day.
- Their responses to stimuli are unpredictable; a slight change in taste, smell, sight, or other stimuli can upset them.
- It can be difficult for them to understand or use gestures or facial expressions, and they usually find it hard to understand sarcasm or catch a joke.
- They find it hard to adapt to a change in their environment or daily routine.
- Autistic children tend to play with the same toys, in the same way, every time.
- Although they wish to have close friendships, they do not interact easily with people because they don’t know how.
- They often fail to recognize when someone around them is hurt or when someone is trying to pass a message on to them indirectly.
Autism can also be detected in babies and toddlers. Let’s take a look at the signs of autism in young children.
Signs of autism at an early age
Signs of autism can appear in a child at an early age. If present in a child, the earlier the diagnosis is made, the more effective the treatment is likely to be.
Here are common signs of autism in children at an early age:
- They avoid eye contact and do not respond when their names are called at nine months old.
- They don’t show facial expressions to represent their feelings or fail to imitate other people’s facial expressions at nine months old.
- They don’t understand gestures like waving or pointing and can’t use them at 12 months old.
- They don’t know when someone’s upset or not at 18 months old.
- They don’t join other children to play at three years old and prefer to be alone.
- They might develop extreme fear when it is not necessarily necessary and might display a lack of fear of things that should be dangerous.
- They exhibit hyperactive or impulsive behaviors and a general inability to pay attention.
- Their eating or sleeping behavior can be very sporadic.
- They can experience delays in developing language, movement, and cognitive skills.
When you notice signs of autism in your child, contact your doctor to assess your child for proper diagnosis. Medical professionals make a diagnosis of autism after certain observations and tests.
They observe your child’s developmental history and how your child is developing in the present while paying close attention to their social behaviors and communicative actions. The following represent the common treatments for autism.
Behavioral treatments focus on achieving a change in behavior by understanding the before and after events of autistic behavior. One major behavioral treatment for autistic children is applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA in home therapy is an approach used to encourage desired behaviors and discourage ritualistic or undesired behaviors to promote the adoption of a variety of skills.
Developmental approaches are designed for the purpose of improving certain developmental skills, such as language skills or motor skills. A common example is speech and language therapy which seeks to improve the person’s comprehension and use of speech and language.
Relationship-based approaches help autistic people develop better social skills and build bonds with other people. As an example, a floortime model is a social-relational approach that encourages parents and medical professionals to pay attention and engage in the interests of the individual to increase opportunities for communication.
Some medications are prescribed to treat additional symptoms that can help autistic people thrive better. For example, medications for gastrointestinal disturbances, hyperactivity, insomnia, epilepsy, and more.
Psychological approaches can relieve autistic people of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. An example is cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT).
- Innovative methods
These include biometric technology, apps and devices to help autistic persons improve communication with the world around them. Stem cell regenerative therapy is another recent therapeutic approach to improve health conditions and relieve symptoms in ASD.
Autism represents a broad range of symptoms tied to repetitive actions and atypical social behaviors. Getting help and support as soon as possible helps to improve the effectiveness of the recommended treatment needed for your child to develop and thrive. You can consult with medical professionals at the stem cell therapy center to find more about the management of health and behavior for autistic children.