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Autism: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Types & Treatments

Autism is a very sombre developmental disorder in which one’s capacity to converse and interact gets impaired. Autism is more commonly known as autism spectrum disorder which basically consists of a spectrum of challenges that interferes one’s ability to exhibit social and communicational skills. Autism is generally diagnosed between 2-3 years of age although in some cases its symptoms might indicate its presence in as early as 18 months. Such symptoms if observed should not be ignored and immediate proper actions should be undertaken as early interventions can go a long way in solving the problem.

Autism - Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Types & Treatments

Symptoms

Generally symptoms of autism are observed when a child attains age of 2-3 years. Although in many cases symptoms trigger within the first 12-24 months of their age. These symptoms generally persist throughout their lives although with early intervention and proper steps, these symptoms might get better. Here are few commonly observed symptoms that indicate the presence of autism:

  1. After 2-4 years of age, not acquiring any new skill or losing the ones already possessed
  2. Urge to avoid physical contact
  3. Echolalia or the phenomenon of repeating the words again and again
  4. Triggering of feeling of being upset even at trivial changes
  5. Showing no interest in things
  6. Not being able to express one’s own feelings
  7. Have uncommon reactions to the things that are around
  8. Inability to understand emotions be it their own or others’
  9. Urge to avoid all sorts of eye contacts and having a love for an isolated lifestyle
  10. Rocking in circles or flapping their hands
  11. Giving dissimilar answers to questions
  12. Not responding to his or her own name in the first 12 months
  13. Problem of improper language skill or deferred speech

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Causes

The exact causes of autism are not known yet but there are certain causes that are likely to play a major role in occurrence of autism. They are as follows:

1) Genetic Composition

Autism is believed to be a hereditary disease. If one of the parents, or both the parents or any of the siblings is diagnosed with autism then chances of one having autism increases. Although no specific genes have been identified to cause autism but certain syndromes are believed to contribute to autism. They are: fragile x syndrome, Williams’s syndrome and angel man syndrome.

2) Environmental Elicits

Although genes are said to be a contributor to autism but the role of environmental elicits in causing autism cannot be ignored. Factors like premature birth or exposure to alcohol or other serious medicines in the womb can cause autism.

3) Further health circumstances

Some other health conditions are also associated with autism. Some of them are: Down’s syndrome (a genetic disorder that causes learning incapacity), muscular dystrophy (a genetic condition where in the muscle weakens), infantile spasms (epilepsy that develops during the infantile age) etc.

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Types

Autistic spectrum disorder is basically categorized into the following three types:

1) Autistic Disorder

This is the most known type of autism and generally autism is majorly believed to be autistic disorder. In this type the person suffers with intellectual disabilities. He/she might also suffer due to social challenges; mockery faced because of having unusual behaviour and interests, difficulties in communicating and interruptions in language.

2) Asperger Syndrome

This is somewhat similar to autistic disorder and also a lot more different than it. In this type of autism, the symptoms of autism are quite trivial. People suffering with Asperger syndrome might find problems of social challenges and uncommon interests or behaviour but there is no existence of intellectual infirmity.

3) Pervasive developmental Disorder

Not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS): This is popularly known as atypical autism. People who are observed to inculcate some symptoms of autistic disorder and Asperger syndrome but not all of them, falls in this category. People with this type of autism have slighter symptoms. Social and communication challenges might be faced by such people.

Also See : What is Schizophrenia and its Causes ?

Treatments

Here are few ways by which autism can be treated:

1) Medications

Although there are no direct medications for autism but some medicines would be recommended to soothe the symptoms of autism like melatonin to treat sleeping problems, anticonvulsant to treat epilepsy, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor to treat depression, antipsychotics to treat aggressive self-harming behaviour and tantrums, methylphenidate to treat attention deficit hyperactive disorder. These are powerful medicines with potential intense side effects. That is why they are only taken if prescribed. Also regular check-ups are required when these medicines are taken.

2) Parent’s education and training

Parents should be well aware of the symptoms of autism and identify them in early stages as early intervention can bear sweet fruits. Parents should also be well aware of autism and their child and the type of the autism he/she is suffering with. They should be able to communicate in a way that reduces their child’s anxiety and soothe him or her.

So this was all that one should know about autism. People with autism are just different, not less! They need extra concern not your unhelpful judgements.

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Autism: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Types & Treatments
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About Anirudh Singh

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