Autism – Part I
Autism is a disorder that is becoming more and more commonly known and is being addressed by scientists, academics and parents. According to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every 59 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder or, in short, Autism. Here we discuss this disorder in two consecutive articles.
Definition of Autism
Autism is a set of disorders of the nervous system that can cause significant problems in communication, social relationships, and behaviors. These individuals usually have a normal appearance and cannot be diagnosed in the first encounter. Autism encompasses a wide range of disorders that can manifest in varying degrees of severity in different individuals. For this reason, these disorders are referred to as “autism spectrum disorder”. Although these disorders can be diagnosed at any age, today with the development of child health care worldwide, these disorders are usually diagnosed in the first two years after birth.
Symptoms of Autism
Affected people often have problems with social and emotional communication with others. These individuals may repeat certain behaviors and may wish to continue. Any change in these behaviors or their daily schedule can make them uncomfortable and stressful. Many of these people are different from the normal people in learning content. These people may have some of the following symptoms, most of them or all of them:
- They do not point to their objects of interest (such as a flying airplane)
- When another person points to an object, they don’t look at it.
- Have trouble communicating with others or are not interested in communicating with others.
- They avoid eye contact and prefer to be alone.
- They have difficulty understanding others’ emotions or are not interested in listening to the voices of those who express their feelings.
- Avoid being embraced or held by anyone.
- When others talk about them, they seem not to understand them but to react to other stimuli and sounds.
- Repeat the words or phrases that are spoken to them.
- They have trouble expressing their needs.
- They don’t do the usual childish games that are not realistic (like feeding the doll).
- They repeat a behavior or a sound over and over again.
- They do not have the power to adapt to changes in their daily routine and living conditions.
- Unusual reactions to smells, tastes, sounds, emotions and looks.
- They forget a skill they have learned before (for example, they forget a word they used before)
Causes of Autism
Scientists believe that genetic and environmental factors can contribute to autism. A series of studies have reported a link between having certain genes and having autism (children with Down Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome are more likely to develop autism than others). It seems that some disorders in brain development as well as development in the fetal period, early pregnancy, use of certain medications during pregnancy and the birth of very low birth weight babies can be effective in developing autism. Research into other possible causes of this disorder is ongoing.
Diagnosis of autism
It can be difficult to diagnose autism at first because there is no medical test to diagnose it and specialists can only diagnose the child’s behavior, his or her reactions to stimuli and learning tests. An experienced specialist may diagnose autism in a child at the age of two, although in many cases the diagnosis may be postponed until later. These children probably need less help. However, if your child or others around you have the above symptoms, it is best to consult a physician, psychiatrist or psychologist who has the relevant expertise.
In Autism part 2, we will talk about autism treatment and therapeutic advances.