AUTISM - all you need to know!

WHAT IS AUTISM?

Autism is a disorder which affects the development of an individual’s communication and social interaction skills. Autism literally means “aloneness,” or living in one’s own world.

WHAT CAUSES AUTISM?

The exact cause of autism is not known but research suggests that both genes and environment play important roles.

1)Genetic factors

It is seen than in twins if one has autism, the other twin will also have autism in nearly 9 out of 10 cases. If one sibling has ASD, the other siblings have 35 times the normal risk of also developing the disorder.

2)Environmental factors

In medicine, "environment" refers to anything outside of the body that can affect health. This includes the air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in, the food we eat, the medicines we take, and many other things that our bodies may come in contact with. Environment also includes our surroundings in the womb, when our mother's health directly affects our growth and earliest development.Researchers are studying many environmental factors such as family medical conditions, parental age , exposure to toxins, and complications during birth or pregnancy (but none of them have been proven)

MYTH: Autism is caused by vaccines.
TRUTH: There is no link between autism and vaccines.

How common is ASD?

Around 1 in 68 children has ASD. The number of children affected with autism is on the rise. Boys face about four to five times higher risk than girls.We do not know why there has been a dramatic increase in autism over the past 25 years

What are the SIGNS OF AUTISM?

Signs can vary from one child to the next, but in general, they fall into three areas:

*Poor socializing skills/ not mingling with people

*Difficulty in communication (eg. speech delay)

*Repetitive/ Abnormal behaviors

A definitive diagnosis of autism is usually only made around 18 to 24 months, but you can observe signs in a child as early as 8 to 12 months old.

Warning signs are

  1. No big smiles or other warm/ joyful /happy expressions by six months
  2. No interactive communication/smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  3. No babbling (sounds such as mama, baba )by 12 months
  4. No interactive actions such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 1 year
  5. No words by 16 months
  6. No meaningful,spontaneous, two-word phrases by 2 years
  7. Any loss of speech, babbling (words such as mama/baba) or social skills at any age

List of social skills (interactive skills) a child may lag in.

  • Unusual or inappropriate body language, gestures (eg. not saying Namaste/Hello/waving bye bye)
  • Avoids eye contact or uses facial expressions that don’t match what he or she is saying
  • No interest in other people (e.g. showing you a drawing, pointing to a bird with finger)
  • Prefers to be alone and does not mingle with others
  • Difficulty in understanding other people’s feelings, reactions (emotions such as happy,sad,angry)
  • Doesn’t like to be touched,hugged or carried
  • Does not mingle or enjoy company of other children of same age
  • Does not point out to objects with his/her index finger(eg.showing a plane in sky /dog on the road)
  • Does not bring things to show you (eg. A new toy,a gift)

Speech and language problems

  • Delay in learning how to speak (after the age of two) or doesn’t talk at all
  • Speaking in an abnormal tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch
  • Repeating words or phrases over and over without knowing the actual meaning (eg. If you say ‘hello he will also say hello without understanding the meaning,if you ask ‘what is your name,he also will tell ‘what is your name)
  • Keeps repeating TV dialogues without understanding the meaning
  • Not able to understand that somebody is making fun/doesn’t understand jokes
  • Dos not show interest in playing games such as “pat a cake” ,”peek a boo” .
  • Trouble starting a conversation or keeping it going
  • Difficulty communicating needs or desires (not able to tell what he likes,whether he is hungry)
  • Doesn’t understand simple statements or questions (eg. When you ask “do you want to eat,he says ‘”yes,you want to eat”)
  • Does not play imaginative play (eg with kitchen set/dolls/clay/telephone/school-school/chor-police)

Behavior and play problems

  • Repetitive body movements (hand flapping, rocking, spinning); moving constantly
  • Excessive interest in odd objects (rubber bands, keys, light switches,collecting toffee wrappers)
  • Doing the same thing again and again(e.g. lines up toys)
  • Gets upset by change in their routine or environment.(eg taking exactly the same route to school)
  • Clumsiness, abnormal posture, or odd ways of moving (eg.flapping hands/walking on toes/rocking/spinning in a circle/making unusual hand movements near the face)
  • Excessive interest in spinning objects, moving pieces, or parts of toys (e.g. spinning the wheels on a race car, instead of playing with the whole car)

What should i do if i notice any such signs in my baby?

You need to see a specialist about your child. The general rule is that the earlier your child is diagnosed, the better your chances are for improving your child’s outcomes.

What would happen if i don’t get my child treated?

Undetected or untreated autism may lead to:

  • Daily routine functioning and self-care at a low level
  • Cognitive and language limitations
  • Problems with school adjustment
  • Poor social relationships
  • Inability to live independently

For an individual suffering from Autism, it is a very lonely and isolating experience – one that our children might be spared from if we can recognize it and help them from an early age. The important thing is to recognize that it exists and to get help

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