Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability. It is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism. ASD is usually characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.
How early can you identify autism in kids?
Autism is remediable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved results. Autism has its roots in early brain development. The most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 12 and 18 months of age. Toddlers begin to develop normally until the second year of life, when they lose skills and develop autism – a pattern called “regression.”
Signs To Look For:
- Lack of or delay in spoken language
- Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
- Little or no eye contact
- Lack of interest in peer relationships
- Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
- Persistent fixation on parts of objects
Key Factor- Speech Delay:
Language delay is often the first sign parents act on when a child is on the autism spectrum. Autism is a communication disorder, and since speech is the way to communicate, delayed speech may signal autism. Children who are eventually diagnosed with ADHD are often “late talkers”.
Faulty gene or genes might make a person more likely to develop autism when there are also other factors present, such as a chemical imbalance, viruses or chemicals, or a lack of oxygen at birth. In a few cases, autistic behavior is caused by: Rubella (German measles) in the pregnant mother.
Factors During pregnancy which can cause autism:
- Taking antidepressants during pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months
- Nutritional deficiencies early in pregnancy, particularly not getting enough folic acid
- The age of the mother and father
- Complications at or shortly after birth, including very low birth weight and neonatal anemia
- Maternal infections during pregnancy
- Exposure to chemical pollutants, such as metals and pesticides, while pregnant
Tips For Expectant Moms:
Taking folic acid: Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.
Ask about Anti-depressants for complications: Women who are taking anti-depressants should consult with a doctor about all the risks and benefits of these drugs. Untreated depression in a mother can also affect her child’s well-being later, so this is not a simple decision to make.
Practice prenatal care. Eating nutritious food, trying to avoid infections, and seeing a clinician for regular check-ups can increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy child.
Developmental red flags which signal autism (Month wise):
The following delays warrant an immediate evaluation by your child’s pediatrician:
By 6 months: No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions
By 9 months: No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions
By 12 months: Lack of response to name
By 12 months: No babbling or “baby talk”
By 12 months: No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving
By 16 months: No spoken words
By 24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating.
Can autism be treated?
While there is no known cure for autism, there are treatment and education methodologies that can address some of the challenges associated with the condition. Intervention can help to lessen disruptive behaviors, and education can teach self-help skills for greater independence.
Does autism run in families?
"Family history of an autism spectrum disorder can increase the risk for an autism diagnosis." Autism tends to run in families, and having one autistic child increases the risk of having another: Parents who have one autistic child have a 1 in 20 — or 5 percent — chance of having another child with autism.
How to talk to a child who has autism?
- Speak about their interests.
- Shorten your sentences if you're talking to a younger child or a person who doesn't process spoken words well.
- Draw a picture.
- Allow for processing time.
- Maintain linguistic consistency as needed.
Having an autistic child does not make society look down at you. In fact, it needs more courage to raise one. Every child is unique, autistic children need more care and attention. More power to all moms who are raising one.
Also read: Busting Myths Around Autism
Explore the entire collection of articles: Special Needs