Autism spectrum disorder affects communication, social interaction, perception of a child and in some children the symptoms of the disorder appear early in childhood. Some other children have normal development during the first few months of life, but may suddenly show change in behavior.
These children may suddenly become aggressive or withdrawn, while some others may lose their language skills. Severity of the symptoms also vary from person to person.
Each child may have a unique mix of symptoms and its severity.
Some of the common symptoms in communication and social interaction include
Lack eye contact and facial expression
Do not respond to his/her name
Do not respond to affection or warmth shown towards them
Delayed speech development
Inability or failure to remember language skills learnt
Inability to start or continue a conversation
Robot-like speech or any other abnormal tone
Repetition of words and phrases
Inability to understand simple directions
Lack of expression or emotions
Being passive or aggressive during a social interaction
Child with ASD may have specific patterns in their behavior like
Repetitive movements like flapping of hands, rocking, spinning, or head-banging
Follows specific routines
Always on the move
Resistance to change
Odd movement patterns like walking on toes
Exaggerated body response
Sensitive to light, sound and touch
Not interested in imitative play
Abnormal focus on specific certain objects
Odd food preferences
Some children with this disorder have normal to high intelligence and grasp quickly. But they struggle to communicate and to apply the learning in normal situations.
Some children have high skills in specific areas like
Children with mild symptoms may lead a normal life later. Others may have persistent difficulty in language and social skills.
Multiple causes are implied in the development of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Genetics and environment play a role in ASD.
Many genes are considered to be associated with the spectrum. Genetic changes may make a child more prone to spectrum disorder.
Genes that affect brain development, or transmission of signals determine the severity of the symptoms. Environmental factors like viral infections and pollutants may also play a role in triggering the disorder.
Major risk factors for ASD are
Boys are more likely to develop ASD when compared to girls.
4 Making a Diagnosis
There are no medical tests to diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder. Developmental delays observed during regular checkups is the first indication of ASD.
Evaluation of child’s
provide important clues regarding the presence of this condition.
Speech and language test suitable for a particular developmental stage is also used in the diagnosis. Performance of the child in structured social and communication test is also evaluated to check for symptoms of ASD.
Criteria for diagnosis is given in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by American Psychiatric Association.
As per the criteria, the child must have problems in different regions.
Social and emotional issues like inability to initiate and continue a conversation, inability to share experiences, and failure to share emotions
Using nonverbal communication techniques in social interactions like lack of eye contact and difficulty in understanding body language
Difficulty in developing and maintaining relationships like problems in making friends or adjusting behavior according to the situation
The child will have at least two of the following behavior patterns to meet the criteria.
Repetitive movements like rocking, spinning, or repeating words and phrases
Strictly following a routine and patterns of verbal or non-verbal behavior
Detailed or focused interest on unusual objects
Lack of sensitivity or exaggerated sensitivity to sensory inputs
There is no cure for Autism spectrum disorder and treatment strategies focus on reducing the symptoms and to support development and learning of the child.
Behavior and communication therapies help in treating social and behavioral issues of the child. It helps the child to learn new skills and to improve their social interactions. This helps them to survive well, although the symptoms are not cured.
Structured educational programs help the child with ASD to perform well. The strategic plan improves social interactions, communications skills, and behavior.
Family therapies are useful to teach the family methods of coping and ways to interact with the child for improving
Medications are recommended to improve the symptoms. Antidepressants help to control anxiety, while antipsychotic drugs are used to treat behavioral issues.
There is no specific way to prevent Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Treatment helps to improve the language and social skills of the person.
7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies used for treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder include:
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