Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorder. It is a brain development-related condition that affects how an affected person perceives and socializes with other people, causing social interaction and communication issues. There are also minimal and repeated behavior patterns in the condition. The word “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity of autism.
This brain disorder includes conditions previously deemed separate — autism, Asperger’s syndrome, an unspecified form of pervasive developmental disorder, and childhood disintegrative disorder. Some people still use to call it “Asperger’s syndrome,” which is usually considered to be at the mild end of autism spectrum disorder.
It occurs in early childhood and gradually creates problems functioning in society, such as social, school, and work. Children often have autism symptoms within the first year. A small number of kids appear to develop normally in the first year, followed by a period of regression between the ages of 18 and 24 when they develop symptoms of autism.
Although there is no cure for autism disorder, intensive, early treatment (during childhood) can make a significant difference in many children’s lives.
1Symptoms of autism
Some kids show signs of early childhood autism spectrum disorder, such as caregivers’ indifference, reduced eye contact, and lack of proper response to their name. Many children may develop normally for the first few months of life, but then they suddenly become withdrawn or violent or lose their already acquired language skills. Signs usually start developing at two years of age.
Every child with autism is likely to have a particular behavior pattern and severity level — from low performance to high performance.
Some children with autism have learning difficulties, and some have signs of low intelligence and IQ than healthy kids. Most children with the condition have average to high information – they learn quickly, yet they have trouble communicating, adjusting to social situations, and applying their knowledge in everyday life.
The severity of the condition can sometimes be challenging to determine due to the unique combination of symptoms in each child. It is usually based on the level of impairment and how it affects the ability of a child to function. Below are some common symptoms of children with autism spectrum disorder.
- Social communication and interaction
- A child or adult with autism may have problems with communication skills and social interaction, including any of these signs:
- Fails to respond (in some cases, a child may react but take more time than normal) to his or her name
- Seems to prefer playing alone, resists cuddling and holding, and retreat into his or her own world
- Lacks facial expression and has poor eye contact
- Doesn’t speak or has delayed speech
- Unable to start a conversation or keep one going
- May loses the previous ability to say words or sentences
- Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm
- May has a robot-like speech or uses a singsong voice
- Repeat words or phrases, but don’t understand how to use them
- Doesn’t seem to follow instructions and understand simple questions
- Doesn’t bring objects to share an interest
- Seems unaware of the feelings of others and doesn’t convey emotions or feelings
- Approach inappropriately to social interaction by being disruptive, passive, or offensive
- Has trouble understanding non-verbal signals, such as reading facial expressions, body postures or voice tone of others
- Patterns of behavior
- A child or adult with autism may have limited, interests or activities and repetitive patterns of behavior, including any of these signs:
- Perform repetitive movements of hands and legs, such as hand flapping, rocking, and spinning
- Develops specific rituals/routines and becomes disturbed with the slightest change
- Perform self-harming activities, such as biting or head-banging
- Has issues with balance or has abnormal movement patterns, such as clumsiness or walking on toes, and has irregular, rigid or distorted body language
- Is fascinated by object information and details, such as a toy car’s spinning wheel, but does not understand the overall function of the object
- Is extremely sensitive to touch, light, or sound, yet maybe insensitive to pain or temperature
- Doesn’t engage in make-believe or imitative play
- Fixed on an item or behavior with an uncommon concentration
- May has specific food habits, such as consuming only a few foods or neglecting foods with a certain texture
Many children with autism spectrum disorder become more cooperative with others as they develop and exhibit fewer behavioral problems. Some may eventually lead normal or near-normal lives, typically those with the least severe problems. Others, however, still struggle with language or social skills. In some cases, teen years may bring worse emotional and behavioral problems.