As a parent, it can often be incredibly difficult to admit that your child has a problem. However, with conditions like autism, it is crucial to catch it early. That way you can do the absolute best you can for your child. Early intervention has been proven essential for getting the symptoms of autism under control. Here we will discuss what autism is and how you can identify it in your child. You can also click here for more info and other health-related articles and advice from Mommy Authority.
What Is Autism?
Autism, which is also known as autism spectrum disorder, is a set of unique challenges that are present in an individual. These challenges include poor social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. This condition is referred to as a spectrum because no two people who suffer from this condition will display the same characteristics. Some children may be able to speak but will display anti-social and repetitive behaviors that are typical of autism. While other children with this condition may be completely non-verbal. Autism is frequently associated with a variety of other conditions like gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.
What Causes Autism?
Although there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the actual cause of autism most experts agree that autism is caused by a variety of different factors. Environmental, biological and genetic factors all play a role in a child’s likelihood to develop autism later on in their lives. However, genetic factors may be the most significant factor that could lead to autism. The experts have found that families who already have one child with autism are 20% more likely to have another child with autism. Scientists today suspect that a person is more likely to develop autism when a gene or genes are faulty and when there are also other factors present, such as viruses or chemicals, a chemical imbalance, or an insufficient supply of oxygen at birth.
Symptoms Of Autism In Children
- Abnormal body posturing or facial expressions
- Abnormal tone of voice
- Avoidance of eye contact or poor eye contact
- Behavioral disturbances
- Deficits in language comprehension
- Delay in learning to speak
- Flat or monotonous speech
- Inappropriate social interaction
- Intense focus on one topic
- Sensory seeking behavior
- Repeating certain gestures
- Not engaging in cooperative play
- Difficulty in understanding or engaging in affection
How Is Autism Diagnosed
Once you notice any of the above symptoms in your child, your first port of call will be your family health care practitioner. They will then be able to refer you to a pediatric psychiatrist. When you take your child to the psychiatrist, they will perform a developmental screening on your child. The test will be able to tell if children are learning basic skills when they should, or if they might have delays. During developmental screening the doctor will ask you some questions or talk and play with the child during the exam to see how they learn, speaks, behaves, and moves. If the child shows any delay in these areas, it could be a sign of a problem.
Treatments For Autism
- Behavior and Communication Therapy – These kinds of therapies help to address specific social, language and behavioral issues. The most common behavioral therapy used to address the symptoms of autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA) where children learn new skills and are taught to apply these skills to multiple situations through a reward-based motivation system.
- Educational Therapy – Children with autism spectrum disorder often respond well to highly structured educational programs where the focus is placed on social and behavioral issues.
- Family Therapy – This condition affects the entire family, in family therapy the therapist works with the whole family to teach everyone skills and techniques to deal with life with autism.
- Speech Therapy – This type of therapy is essential for children who suffer from autism as it helps them to deal with the world around them and communicate more effectively.
- Medications – When you visit your child’s psychiatrist, they will often prescribe a variety of antipsychotics to manage their symptoms. Sadly, there are no drugs available that cure autism. The medications that your doctor will subscribe will help to control the co-morbid conditions that your child may suffer from.