What is Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder or ASD is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socialises with others. People with ASD may have different patterns of communicating, learning, interacting, and behaving that set them apart from most people. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behaviour. 

The term "spectrum" in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range or spectrum of symptoms and severity. The people who have ASD have varying abilities- some people can have advanced conversational skills while others with ASD might find it difficult to carry out verbal communication. Some people with ASD might need a lot of support in their daily lives while others can function independently.

ASD is mainly caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition, while in other cases the causes may not be known. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD that come together to change the most common ways people develop. We still have much to learn about these causes and how they impact people with ASD.

Autism spectrum disorder includes conditions that were previously considered separate — Autism, Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and an unspecified form of pervasive developmental disorder.

Signs and symptoms of ASD

Problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviours or interests are the most common symptoms of people with ASD. They might also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. It is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms. These characteristics can make life very challenging for people who suffer from ASD.

The most common symptoms that are looked out for in a child with suspected autism include:

  • Delayed developmental milestones ( standing, walking, talking, etc.)
  • A socially awkward child ( finds it difficult to talk to others)
  • The child who has trouble with verbal and nonverbal communication (expressive and receptive communication)

 Causes and Risk Factors

 Many different causes have been identified in the development of ASD. The factors include environmental, and genetic factors. 

  • Genetics- Autism spectrum disease appears to be caused by a number of genes. Autism spectrum disorder can be linked to a genetic condition, such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome, in certain children. Genetic variations (mutations) may raise the likelihood of autism spectrum disorder in other children.

  • Environmental considerations are important. Researchers are presently investigating whether viral infections, medicines, pregnancy difficulties, as well as air pollution, play a role in the onset of autism spectrum disease.

 Although little is known about the specific causes, the present evidence suggests that the following may put children at greater risk for developing ASD:

  • Having a sibling with ASD
  • Having certain genetic or chromosomal conditions, such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis
  • Experiencing complications at birth
  • Being born to older parents

Treatment for ASD

There is no cure for Autism spectrum disorder, and no single treatment works for everyone. The goal of treatment is to improve your child's capacity to function by minimizing symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and promoting development and learning. Early intervention in your child's preschool years can aid in the development of important social, communicative, functional, and behavioural skills.

The variety of autism spectrum disorder therapies and interventions available at home and in schools can be bewildering, and your child's needs may vary over time. 

If a child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, seek advice from professionals on developing a treatment plan and assembling a team of professionals to fulfill a child's needs. Some common treatment options include- 

  1. Behaviour and Communication Therapies - Deals with reducing problem behaviours and teaching new skills. It focuses on teaching children how to act in social situations or communicate better with others. Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) can help children learn new skills and apply these skills to multiple situations through a reward-based motivation system.

  2. Educational Therapies- Highly structured educational programs often work successfully for children with Autism spectrum disorder. A team of specialists and a variety of activities to develop social skills, communication, and behaviour are often included in successful programs.

  3. Family Therapies-  Parents and other family members can learn to play and interact with their children in ways that enhance social interaction skills, control problem behaviours, and teach daily living skills and communication to their children. 

A WORD FROM SOCIALLY SOULED

ASD is a condition that can not be prevented or cured. Children with autism spectrum disorder typically continue to learn and face some problems throughout their lives, but most will continue to require some level of support. Planning for the future opportunities of the child, such as employment, college, living situation, independence and the services required for support can make this process smoother.

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