The symptoms of autism in children
Autism is a distinctive developmental disorder. It can cause impaired communication and social interaction skills with repetitive behaviour. The symptoms of autism in children will be evident in the early stages of a child's development. Symptoms of autism in children occur gradually in a child's development. Likewise, there are environmental and genetically induced reasons associated with autism. Major risk factors are:
- Complications during pregnancy stages
- Rubella virus
- The contamination of toxins such as alcohol and valproic acid
- Restrictions of foetal growth
- Air pollution
- Autoimmune disorders
Some people argue that vaccinations cause symptoms of autism in children. But, such arguments have been scientifically proven wrong. Instead, all the above-mentioned are the risk factors that increase the chance of symptoms of autism in children. But, experts cannot pinpoint the exact causes of autism in the human body, so it has no known cure. There are several possible ways to treat autism, some of which have had successful results. Some researchers study how autism affects a part of the brain. The common characteristics involve an alteration in the way synapses of nerve cells organise and connect.
What should we make out when we see the symptoms of autism in children?
Special care and training can help autism in children. Through speech therapy, symptoms of autism in children can be controlled. Many parents with autism-affected children do not have the means to treat them. These therapies are the only option to control the symptoms of autism in children. Without these therapies, they will be forced to carry on all these symptoms of autism from childhood to their adolescence.
Over the past few decades, an entire perception of autism has evolved. Now many believe that it is a condition that is curable. On the other hand, many believe it is also normal, and it is important to consider them normal. Rob Gorski, a father of 3 autistic children, is an advocate for this movement. No data has been able to establish whether autism has increased globally. The latest researches suggest that symptoms of autism in children are present every 1-2 out of a thousand.
Several historical records of individuals who displayed symptoms can now be understood as autism. The earliest case with symptoms of autism in children symptoms is from the 1800s. It was a boy from the Aveyron part of France. The child was called a wild boy. He lacked several social skills and displayed repetitive behaviour and social deviancy. During that period, there was information about the condition.
In 1910, Eugine Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, coined 'autismus'. This term later evolved into the current term of autism. The coinage process occurred when Bleuler described the symptoms of a Schizophrenic. He had a fixation on the self-admiration of morbid nature. He associated it with the Greek term 'autos', which means 'self'.
Characteristics of Autism
Autism is in the neurodevelopment category within developmental disorders. This is because autism mainly affects neural synapses. While autistic individuals have difficulty in certain skills, they are often skilled in others. Although overt symptoms of autism in children appear when a child has reached six months of age. After that, it gradually develops in a child. It continues throughout their stages of adulthood. And these become behavioural traits over a sustained time. The common elements involve communication and social impairment, and behavioural patterns.
We gain information through intuition about other people. Autistic individuals generally lack instinct, which puts them at a disadvantage in communication. These distinguishing factors set an autistic individual from a neurotypical individual. Parents can see such determining factors of symptoms of autism in children in early childhood itself. Symptoms of autism in children tend to form strong bonds with the person who gives them primary care. However, they completely lack the faculty to respond to social stimuli, such as making eye contact. Autism is characterised by the inability to replicate and communicate through emotions, non-verbal cues and a lack of comprehending an individual's own emotions.
Social isolation is an undesired effect of autism. Autistic people, though they are commonly attributed to the affinity for solitude, are more prone to loneliness and the troubles associated with it. Autistic people associate loneliness not with the quantity or number of friends and acquaintances they have but with the quality of their friendships. Any functional friendship, such as one that allows them to interact and react with the people on a social level, such as through parties, will profoundly impact their lives.
About three out of four autistic people develop impaired communication skills during their developmental stages – they may not produce the necessary means of meeting their daily needs through communication. In children, communication variations will show up from six months, when they delay common infant traits such as babbling. When autistic children are two to three years old, they are less interested in communicating by making requests or presenting their experiences and repeating people's words like echoes. They also have problems with imaginative thinking and the development of signs and symbols in language.
The repetitive behaviour that autistic children display tends to range from a common repetition of basic behaviour such as flapping hands, rolling their heads and rocking their whole body.There are compulsive behaviour traits in autism. Movements and actions that follow rigid and strict rules, like arranging and sorting objects and materials in a specific way, washing hands, and checking things, are coping mechanisms and means of alleviating anxiety and stress.
There are ritualistic traits such as the tendency to wear an article of particular clothing and the adherence to a strict schedule and consistent food habits, with a refusal of interruption and intervention. Ritualistic behaviour also forms restricted interests, such as the preoccupation with particular television programs, games and toys.
Other symptoms of autism
Although symptoms of autism in children affect motor signs such as poorer muscle tones and the lack of coordination of movement, there are also cases where autistic individuals develop far superior skills to other individuals. Some of the areas in which autistic individuals display uncanny skills are in the process of memorising trivia and other details that might be difficult for any other individual to memorise and strict adherence to routine and way of doing things. Some common medical disorders in autistic individuals include gastrointestinal problems, irregular sleep and behavioural patterns and erratic mood shifts.
Autism had been associated earlier with a triad of causes such as cognitive, neural level and genetic disorders. Still, more studies into the reasons for symptoms of autism in children identify it as a complex form of the disorder that has distinct, co-occurring causes. It is difficult to determine whether the association of symptoms of autism in children with mutations that have major to severe effects or through the interactions of common genetic variations occurs through rare multigene interactions.
There are epigenetic factors or heritable changes in phenotype that do not alter DNA sequencing but considerably influence gene expression. Scientists have not pinpointed the mutations that cause autism despite studies and observation of gene behaviour in individuals with autism.
Nutrition intake during maternal stages and the inflammation that may occur during the stages of pregnancy or preconception can influence the neurodevelopment of a foetus. Inflammation and diseases of autoimmune nature can affect the foetal tissues, resulting in genetic problems or causes of damage to the development of the nervous system.
Exposure to particulates such as heavy metals in air pollution increases autism risks. At the same time, other causes are not supported through scientific evidence, such as diet involving certain food, phenols in plastic, solvents, PCBs, parental stress and vaccination risks.
It is important to understand that linking vaccination to autism is baseless and can become a potential threat to a child's growth in terms of exposure to commutative diseases and outbreaks of potentially fatal viruses among children.
The diagnosis of symptoms of autism in children is not based on a mechanism or cause basis but through observation of behaviour. A paediatrician performs a preliminary diagnosis thorough physical examination and takes into account a child's developmental history. Further diagnosis, if required, a specialist of ASD or Autism Disorder Spectrum, undertakes.
Neuropsychologists perform diagnoses for a thorough assessment of a child's cognitive capabilities. The prevalence of autism in a patient can make the diagnosis of other medical conditions difficult, especially those associated with mental health, such as bipolar disorder or depression.
Statistically, the diagnosis of autism is more difficult among females, as they tend to display a trait known as masking. Masking is a process by which an individual sustains eye contact and maintains facial expressions that can be easily mistaken as normative. Even though male subjects display masking, it is much more common in females, leading to misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or the lack of diagnosis.
Diagnosis of symptoms of autism in children is also difficult to perform in visually impaired people, as symptoms of autism often overlap with syndromes associated with common blindness. A major chunk of autism diagnostic criteria also relies on vision, sustaining eye contact and non-verbal communication aided by eye movement, making it a challenge for specialists to determine if a child is autistic or suffering from conditions such as blindism.
The means of conducting diagnosis and the monetary requirements of performing it can deter parents or caretakers from performing diagnosis, which can be an inhibition to self-care as therapy given in early stages can significantly improve the living conditions of autistic individuals.
The classification of autism is across a spectrum that ranges from people who are severely autistic. Classification of autism is not based on causes, as causes are difficult to determine. The overlap of traditional disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, paediatrics, and neurology makes it increasingly difficult to classify and study autism as subgroups with biologically distinct traits become blurred. An observed trait of autism through modern brain scanning is the hampered activity in the face fusiform area in the brain. This area is responsible for associative skills that make face recognition possible. Scans pinpoint why autistic individuals find issues in perception – such as the ability to distinguish people from objects.
Till now, the scientific world has not figured out the cause of Autism. Apart from speculating possibilities, it is near impossible to predict the occurrence of autism in an unborn child. However, since viruses such as rubella cause autism, getting vaccinations against these viruses can prevent this. Even so, viral infection accounts for less than one per cent of total autism cases.
As there is no definite cure for autism, we cannot consider it a disease. The primary target of any means of therapy or treatment is to reduce the distress and emotional toll on the parents. Managing autism involves creating the necessary means for autistic individuals to increase their functional independence and quality of living. Each individual requires a treatment tailored to their particular nature and needs, as all autistic individuals still have advantageous traits.
Medical intervention for this medical condition involves consultation with a professional psychologist, teachers equipped to provide special education, behaviour analysts or speech pathologists.
While medication does not affect the core symptoms of autism, many studies show that some medications reduce the associative symptoms such as inattention. Irritability and repetitive behaviour increase the scope of further education and employment of an autistic individual.
A majority of autistic individuals are unemployed. This is due to their physical limitations to work and function independently or because of insensitive employers who do not wish to employ individuals who require constant supervision.
Even after they get a graduate degree, the probability of autistic individuals gaining employment is less. However, there are cases of employers giving positive reports about autistic employees. The reports show that autistic individuals show more orientation to detail and memory than the average workforce and strict adherence to procedures and rules.
Within disability rights, a social movement emphasises neurodiversity, which advocates for the perception that autism is simply a natural variation in the brain. Hence, one should not consider it a disorder that requires a cure. Activists in this spectrum focus on developing coping skills for autistic individuals rather than behavioural conditioning, which would make them copy or mimic the behaviour that society considers normal.
What can we do about it? This is a question that has been raised from many corners. There is nothing we can do about it if we see it as a disease and try to cure it. But, if we can see them as normal people who just need a little push to be with us, there is a lot we can do about it. People like Rob Gorski, the autism dad, have shown us a path to integrate them into the social structure. Rob Gorski, a father of three children with autistic symptoms, shared his life with his children through his blogs. It is a huge motivation for people who wants to make the world a better place for everyone, despite their physical and psychological conditions.
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