Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability affecting how a person communicates, their behaviour and social interaction. It’s a lifelong disability and may affect anyone regardless of the ethnic or racial groups. Statistically it has been shown that boys are more affected than girls.
According to the DSM 5 autistic people have problem with communicating and interacting with another person, may show repetitive or restricted behaviour and face challenges in settings of home, school and work.
The causes for autism are still unknown but it may be associated with some risk like, having a close family member who has autism, mutations in their genetics, certain genetic disorders like fragile X syndrome, low birth weight, having old parents, metabolic disturbances, having come in contact with toxins or heavy metal, viral infections and certain medications. According to scientific research manifestation of this condition has both genetic and environmental component.
Signs and symptoms
Autism may present differently among people and has been called a spectrum of disorder. There are mainly five subtypes, people may present with or without an intellectual problem, with or without language problem, with a genetic condition or known environmental or medical reason, with neurodevelopmental, behaviour or mental disorder, or with problems in movements like catatonia. Identifying children early may help you obtain autistic psychology services to improve their condition.
There are many signs and symptoms of autism and it is not necessary that everyone have to present with all these symptoms or signs, according to the DSM 5 these manifestations can be divided into communication and social interaction problems and restricted or repetitive behaviour.
In the first category, persons would show difficulty in interaction and communication, may not have eye contact with the ones they are talking, difficulties in having back and forth conversation, slow to respond, showing low interest in activities, facial expression that does not go with what is said and monotonous voice robot like, difficulty with understanding another person’s point of view.
Under the repetitive behaviour or restricted behaviour, they would show repeating of words or certain behaviour this is called echolalia, having an interest only in specific topics or details, focusing on certain moving objects, getting upset when the routine is slightly changed, less sensitive to a stimulus like noise, sound, temperature.
Some even show problem with sleeping problems or irritability.
Autism presents early and can be detected early as 12 to 24 months, therefore having the child screened early for autism is very important so modifications can be made early on. One of the common tools is modified check list for autism in toddlers, this is a survey filled out by parents, other screening tools are, DNA testing, behavioural evaluation, auditory and visual testing. Usually diagnosis is made by a team that includes child psychologists, occupational therapist, speech and language pathologists
There is no cure for autism all the intervention methods are focused on helping individuals deal with the symptoms, the interventional therapies include, behavioural therapy, play therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy,