Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that represents a wide range of conditions that impacts on a person’s behavior, affecting how they communicate and interact with other people. The term “spectrum” is used because patients often display a wide range of symptoms. ASD represents conditions such as autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder, which were formerly diagnosed separately.
A person with ASD may appear like any ordinary person. However, the way they think, learn, communicate, and their problem-solving abilities make them unique. ASD also affects individuals differently. Some only display very mild symptoms requiring very little help while others are severely affected, needing a lot of help and support in their daily lives. ASD is considered a developmental disorder since it begins early during childhood and can be visible during the first two years of child development.
Signs and Symptoms
The most visible sign of ASD is reflected in social, emotional, and communication behaviors of a person. People with ASD will display different symptoms with varying intellectual functioning ranging from mild to severe impairment. However, symptoms begin during early infancy and continue through a person’s life. Some of the most prevalent symptoms of ASD may include reduced eye contact, problems concentrating, trouble communicating or expressing feelings and emotions, restricted interests, and difficulties starting and maintaining conversations. Early signs of ASD in children may include delayed speech, difficulties in understanding simple commands, problems in language comprehension, resistance to being cuddled, and repetitive behaviors such as repeating a word or a phrase over and over again.
ASD is a complex disorder with no specific cause. Both genetics and environmental factors have been linked to the condition. Some of the genes associated with ASD can be inherited from parents to children, while others occur spontaneously. On the other hand, researchers are yet to find any link between factors such as medications, complications, or exposure to toxins during pregnancy to ASD.
Prevention and Diagnosis
Autism cannot be prevented, but an early diagnosis can be vital in improving behavior, language developments, among other skills. Diagnosis can also be quite difficult since there is no medical test involved. However, an experienced doctor, through a series of physical examinations, should be able to give a reliable diagnosis.
Treatment of ASD
Autism spectrum disorder is not curable. However, early diagnosis and intervention have been proven to be vital in improving a child’s development. Interventions focus on helping a child learn essential skills such as talking, walking, and socializing with people.