Does Your Child Have Autism?

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Autism is one of the most common pervasive developmental disorders. It is said that one in 150 children, mostly male, suffer from this condition. Autism is a condition that causes a wide variety of symptoms, notable of which are social withdrawal and preoccupation with routine. However, autistic children are noticeably bright and had intellectual gifts that normally ruled out mental retardation.

What is Autism?

Autism is a brain defect affecting speech and one’s ability to relate with other people. People with autism are often described as having their own worlds. It is classified under the broader medical disorder called Pervasive Developmental Disorder or PDD. Among PDDs, autism is the most prevalent.

Autism is not selective as to race, ethnicity or social status. Researches are still not able to answer the question as to why there are more boys affected with this disorder than girls.

Common Causes of Autism

Studies have suggested that autism is a defect in the gene pool, thus it runs in the family. Still others maintain that certain types of vaccine cause autism in some children. What they do agree on is that for people with autism, their brains have a different shape.

This disorder is often detected in children before they turn three. Parents notice that their child still does not have regular speech patterns or may often be found playing by themselves or is isolated from other children. Sometimes, parents think that their child is deaf or suffers from some kind of ear defect because of his/her lack of response to conversations. Since the tests conducted say otherwise, parents should then turn to other sources of the problem.

Signs and Symptoms

The common symptoms of autism include making little or no eye contact with persons trying to make conversations with them; talking at people instead of to them or paying no heed to actually getting information from people they are communicating with; limited and repetitive patterns of behavior such as sucking while staring into space, rocking or unusual interest and attachment to a toy or object.

Parents should also be alert to the fact that their child has a desperate need for routines. Some children with autism crave sameness. Signs of autism may also include tantrum, distress for no apparent reason, being unresponsive to teaching, sensitivity to sound, or difficulties in sensory integrations.

Other signs for autism that could be observed in children include the following:

  • No pointing by one year
  • No babbling by one year, no utterance of single words by 16 months, no two-word phrases by two years
  • Loss of language skills
  • No pretend playing
  • Little or no interest in making friends
  • A very short attention span
  • No response when called by name; indifference to others
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Repetitive body movements
  • Intense tantrums
  • Fixations on an object
  • Uncommonly strong resistance to routine changes
  • Oversensitivity to certain sounds, smells, or textures

Treatment for Autism

Autism is a lifelong disorder although manifestations may lessen as people with autism learn to control emotions and their behaviors. Recommended treatments include occupational therapy, speech therapy and behavioral training. A specially structured educational system also helps a child with autism to adjust better to relating with people and to study and learn.

Autism, though incurable, is not a totally crippling disease. Timely psychological intervention could alleviate some of the symptoms and make an autistic child live a productive life. In fact, many autistic children have above-average intelligence, owing to their fascination with detail.

The goal to treatments and therapies for those with autism is to turn them into functional and independent adults. Early detection of autism is thus crucial for early treatments. Parents are encouraged to look for signs of autism and immediately consult a psychologist in order to arrange treatment.