Understanding Autism and its early identification
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), also known as autism, is a developmental disorder. An autistic child can manifest a range of behavioural abnormalities such as the inability to foster friendship and not being able to talk. Some may develop speaking abilities, but they might not be able to convey their ideas effectively. Since it is difficult for them to develop speaking skills hence they are not able to sustain a conversation with an individual.
Kids suffering from autism develop their skills unevenly so they may not be good speakers, but they often are very good in music, art, mathematics, and have a sharp memory. Due to this reason, they perform extremely well in problem-solving tests.
- Inability to make eye contact
- Restrictive social behaviour
- Behavioural impediments
- Impulsive and aggressive behaviour
- Self-injurious temperament
- A limited range of interest/ extreme interest in one topic
- Keep doing something over and over again such as repeating words
- Inability to focus
- Not able to see things when someone points at them
- Inability to understand gestures and facial expressions
- Inability to focus on an individual’s voice
Cause of Autism
The exact cause of autism is not clear. It is often linked with malfunctioning in the part of the brain that processes sensory inputs and language. Autism is more common in boys, and it can affect children irrespective of their social background, race, ethnicity, educational level, and lifestyle. However, there are some risk factors:
- It is genetic hence a particular set of genes increase the probability of autism.
- Old age parents are at a higher risk of giving birth to an autistic child.
- Pregnant women if exposed to certain chemicals such as alcohol, antidepressants and anti-seizure medicines are more prone to giving birth to autistic children.
- Certain other factors such as obesity and diabetes in the parents, have also been linked to an increased possibility of giving birth to an autistic kid.
Although there is no definite treatment available for autism, it is critical to identify the early signs of autism so that your kid can get appropriate autism treatment in the form of therapies and alternative medications depending upon the severity of the disease.
An early diagnosis is usually composed of 2 steps:
- A certified clinician through developmental screening can judge if your child is on the right track of learning essential skills such as speaking, learning and behavioural aspects. Doctors advise that children should be screened for these skills or developmental delays during their check-ups at 9, 18, and 24 months of age. Children should be screened at 18 and 24 month check-ups specifically for any developmental delays.
- If your paediatrician concludes that there is a slight delay in the development of your baby then a complete assessment should be carried out that includes genetic, vision and hearing tests. You also might want to consult a paediatrician specialising in autistic disorders such as a child psychologist or developmental paediatrician. These specialists might give your child a structured test, inquire about the child’s parents, or might ask them to fill out a structured questionnaire.
Results of these tests help in the identification of your child’s strengths and weaknesses so that they can decide if your child is having any developmental delays.