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WHAT IS AUTISM?

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term for a neurodevelopmental condition that is characterized by a range of challenges in social interaction, speech and non verbal behaviour communication and repetitive behaviour.


Autism is a spectrum disorder which means every individual with autism has specific strengths and challenges with which they need help. In some cases of autism the individual need not require any help at all but for other instances it could be totally opposite. Therefore ways of learning and problem solving can range from severely challenged to highly skilled. Around 1 in 54 children have Autism.



Although ASD can be diagnosed at any age, it is called a developmental disorder since most of the symptoms generally occur by the age of 2-3. Some show signs from birth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Trusted Source, autism occurs more in boys than in girls with a 4:1 ratio respectively. Autism is found all over the world regardless of their race, culture, ethnicity and economic background.




People diagnosed with autism have trouble expressing themselves as understanding what other people think and feel is tasking for them. Responding to words, facial expressions and gestures is difficult, hence learning and developing skills might be uneven. A person with ASD may find it difficult to learn things but might excel in art, memory, music or math. Autism can occur due to genetic or environmental factors. Experts claim the rise of Autism is due to frequent diagnoses.






WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM?


  • Atypical speech pattern/ tone of voice

  • Lack of eye contact (even while talking to people)

  • Lack of concentration skills - not looking when someone points at something-not listening to people

  • Difficulty in adapting to changes in routine

  • Not wanting to be held/ embraced/ cuddled

  • Increased or decreased sensitivity to specific situations or surroundings

  • Issues in communication, expression of emotions and maintaining relationships

  • Repetition of words/phrases or gestures:

-hyperfocusing on certain objects

- repetition of movements like rocking back and forth or side to side

- arranging items in a specific way


WHAT CAUSES AUTISM?


The root cause of Autism is not clear but it could stem from parts of one’s brain that interpret sensory inputs and process language. An important thing to note is that lifestyle, income, educational level does not affect a child’s risk of Autism. Some other causes are :


  • Pregnant woman exposed to drugs alcohol or anti seizure medicines

  • Genetic factors, hence a person with immediate family members has at a greater risk

  • Fragile X syndrome

  • Being born to older parents

  • Maternal metabolic conditions - diabetes and obesity

  • Metabolic imbalances

  • Low birth weight



Multiple sources confirm that the disorder isn’t caused by vaccines.



HOW CAN AUTISM BE TREATED?


There is no cure for Autism but early treatment can make a huge difference in the development of the child. The impact of autism varies among individuals. Various forms of support and therapies like occupational therapy and speech therapy are available. Therapies such as play therapy, behavioural therapy, physical therapy are also available. Weighted blankets, massages, clothing and meditation might help alleviate certain symptoms as well.




Support and therapies help the individual in tackling the many hindrances people with autism face throughout their life. Parents and caregivers should immediately seek professional help if they detect early signs and symptoms of Autism in their children.





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