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Autism is a developmental and neurological disorder that causes impaired social skills, restricted thinking and behaviour, issues with ability to communicate both verbally and non-verbally and other problems during early childhood. Autism also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is more prevalent in boys than in girls. Initially the condition can be noticed in toddlers, which then develops gradually with age. Severity and even the symptoms of the condition vary greatly. In few cases initially the kid will develop normally, display normal behaviour and aptitude for learning but later exhibit symptoms. In still other cases the kid may show symptoms and issues quite early. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects development of the brain, it is something which one is born with and lives the rest of the life with.
Types of Autism and Symptoms
Many a time autism is a name which is given to a wide range of developmental disorder. Many developmental disorders may or may not get classified as autism. But primarily autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is classified in to three different types namely Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome (AS) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Autistic Disorder is what a layman’s understanding of autism is. The said type of autism is characterised with unusual behaviour, significant speech impairment and intellectual disability. Asperger Syndrome is milder form of Autistic disorder, here the affected child will have trouble socializing and will show some unusual behaviour but no real learning and intellectual disability. Finally when there are few symptoms of either Autistic Disorder or Asperger Syndrome but the condition couldn’t be classified as a typical case of any one of the two, it gets classified as Pervasive Developmental Disorder or PDD-NOS.
Autism Causes and Symptoms
Although researchers are still unable to identify the exact causes of what causes autism but from research it’s pretty evident that a mix of environmental and genetic factors is the culprit. It is quite clear that genes play a major role as if one of the children in the family is affected by autism then the chances of his or her other siblings to get affected by autism is up to 5%, which is very high when compared to normal cases. Also recently one group of researchers have claimed to have identified the abnormal gene that causes autism. Other than genetics other factors such as viruses, chemical imbalances, drug abuse during pregnancy, lack of oxygen at birth, sickness during pregnancy are also associated with autism in infants. Symptoms of autism vary from person to person but there are some common traits that an affected child will display. Avoiding eye contact, being obsessive, unusual reactions to things, repetitive behaviour, delayed speech and language skills, poor motor skills are some of the common symptoms.
Autism Diagnosis and Treatment
Each and every autism case is unique and so is the diagnosis methodology and treatment. It is quite difficult to diagnose autism. Mostly the first step is where parents have to read signs of autism in 2-3 year old toddlers. There is a Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) available using which parents can determine whether further help of a health professional is needed or not. There is no one test to diagnose autism. Evaluation by a specialist may include auditory tests, behaviour tests and also MRI or a CAT scan. Many behaviour tests that are used to diagnose autism have its own share of critics. Treatment methods for autism are also varied and have to be tailor-made depending upon the case. Most popular methods include behavioural therapy by a trained professional, other therapies and medication. Many a time medication can be prescribed for relief from symptoms. Many alternate therapies such as treatment with toys for autistic kids are more are also practised. Much will depend upon the severity of the condition. Although it is widely believed that autism is not curable but fortunately a recent study has concluded that a small minority of people who have undergone treatment live in comfort and harmony and can now be classified as autism-free.