What Is Autism
Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is the term used to describe various neurological disorders that affect the way the brain develops and functions. These disorders have a direct impact on the way the person behaves, communicates or socializes with others. As a result, these individuals and their families face a wide range of challenges that can be difficult to overcome.
How Autism Affects People Differently
The word “spectrum” is used as a way to show that autism affects people in many different ways and degrees. For example, some kids with autism find even the simplest task to be challenging. They require assistance when doing things most people take for granted such as getting dressed, combing their hair or eating a meal. Others with this condition may need little or no assistance at all doing these tasks.
Some people find it difficult fitting in and socializing in large groups but they feel comfortable in small groups while others have a hard time socializing with anyone. On the other hand, some people with autism are referred to as gifted because they have special talents that make them stand out. They often begin talking or reading at an early age. Many are excellent problem solvers, especially when dealing with numbers and some become well-known musicians or artists.
Causes and Symptoms of Autism
There is no one specific thing known to cause autism. However, it is closely linked to genetics and environmental factors may increase the risks of developing this condition. The symptoms of autism will vary depending on where the child falls on the spectrum but there are signs to look for.
Children with autism will have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Poor social skills
- Difficultly speaking and communicating with others
- Learning disabilities
- Repetitive behaviors such as head banging, flapping hands/arms and body rocking
- Trouble making eye contact
- Poor motor skills
- Has difficulty reasoning or planning
- Hates changes, wants things to remain the same
- Little interest in things around them
- Intently focusing on one thing
- Aggressive or quick to anger
- Sensitivity to light, sound, touch or taste
Symptoms usually become noticeable between the ages of two and three and this disorder affects boys four to five times more often than girls.
People suffering from autism often have other health issues that include attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and phobias. Seizures, gastrointestinal disorders and problems sleeping are also associated with autism.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Autism
Early detection is very important so if you suspect your child may have autism, contact your health care provider so you can begin treatment right away. By intervening and providing your child with the tools and support he needs at an early age, you’ll greatly improve his chances of living a normal and productive life.