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What is ASD, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment


What is ASD, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment


Medically Reviewed By
Dr Divya Rohra

Written By Kirti Saxena
on Apr 15, 2024

Last Edit Made By Kirti Saxena
on Apr 15, 2024

What is ASD, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

As per the statistics of the Indian Journal of Pediatrics (IJP), the prevalence of Autism in India is around 1 in 6 children. However, boys are more affected by Autism than girls, with a ratio of approx 3:1.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), often called Autism, is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by differences in the brain. People with autism face difficulties with social communication and interaction and repetitive behavior. It is a special disorder and can look different in different people. However, they often possess unique strengths and talents like exceptional focus, a keen eye for detail, or an incredible memory. The exact cause of ASD is not clear, but researchers suggest that the reason may be genetic or environmental factors. Apart from this, having a family member with ASD can also increase the risk of certain genetic conditions.

There is no cure for Autism, but symptoms may lessen over time. Let's learn more about Autism, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and other important factors that will help you to make a difference in the lives of people with Autism.

What causes Autism?

The cause of autism is not understood completely. Here are some risk factors of ASD include-

  • Have a family of ASD
  • Genetic conditions 
  • Environmental Factors
  • Low birth weight
  • Being born to old parents
  • Maternal history of viral infections
  • Complications during childbirth
  • Metabolic conditions
  • Immune system issues

If you are concerned about your child's development, speaking with a pediatrician or developmental specialist is important. Your doctor may advise disorders of Autism spectrum test to diagnose the disorder. Early diagnosis and intervention can help to improve the symptoms and reduce the effects in children with ASD.

What are the Types of Autism?

Here is the breakdown of Autism types- 

  • Asperger's Syndrome- This is the mild end of autism disorder with normal intelligence and language development. However, people face difficulties while social interaction and repetitive behaviors remain. 
  • Autistic Disorder- This was a broader term encompassing the core challenges of ASD across the spectrum.
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)-  This is the rare and most severe disorder. The children with CDD lose many skills after a period of normal development. Children with CDD also develop seizure disorders. 
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)- This category was used for people who didn't fully meet the criteria for other specific diagnoses within the autism spectrum.

What are some common symptoms of ASD?

The symptoms of ASD can be seen in early childhood, between 12 to 24 months. However, the symptoms may also appear in earlier or later stages. Autism affects social skills, communication, and behavior. Other children may develop signs of autism in later stages. Signs of autism are usually seen by the age of 2 years. Each child with autism spectrum disorder has a unique pattern and disability and level of severity from low functioning to high functioning. Early symptoms may include delays in language or social development. 

Social communication and Interaction challenges 

  • People with ASD may have difficulty understanding nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions and body language. 
  • Do not keep eye contact.
  • Do not show expressions like happy, angry, or sad
  • Limited use of gestures
  • Do not share interests by the age of 15 months. 
  • Challenges with initiating, maintaining, and taking turns in conversations.
  • Limited interest 
  • Difficulty with imaginative play and social interaction scenarios.

Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors 

People with ASD may be strongly interested in a specific topic and spend a lot of time learning everything. They may also engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rocking or flapping their hands.

  • Follow certain routines
  • Flap hands, rock body 
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Get upset by minor changes
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Lining up toys and sorting objects every time in the same way.
  • Repeat words or phrases heard from others
  • Inattentive Behavior
  • These behaviors vary greatly between children. 
  • Oversensitive to certain sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or textures. 

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have ASD, it is important to see a doctor or mental health professional for a diagnosis. Early diagnosis and intervention can make a big difference in the lives of people with ASD.

What are the risk factors of Autism?

Here are some risk factors of Autism-

  • Complications during birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Having a sibling with Autism
  • Having certain chromosomal disorders
  • Premature labor and birth
  • Birthing parent by the age of 35 or older

What are the complications of Autism?

ASD itself is not a complication, but due to present challenges in people, it can cause certain complications, including-

  • Feeding issues
  • Poor Sleep
  • Epilepsy
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Speech and language delays
  • Motor skills delays
  • Mental health issues, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Uneven learning
  • Social isolation

Not everyone with ASD will experience these complications. The severity and types of complications can vary greatly. However, early intervention can help to manage these challenges and improve the quality of life of people with ASD.

Getting a Diagnosis

Consult a child psychologist if you notice abnormal actions and behavior in your child. Your doctor will examine the child's behavior and development and advise structured autism spectrum tests. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay in diagnosing ASD can worsen the symptoms and conditions. 

Diagnosing ASD requires several screening tests, including-

  • Genetic tests like Disorders Of Autism Spectrum Test
  • Behavioral evaluation 
  • occupational therapy screening
  • Developmental questionnaires, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2)

How to take care of Children with Autism? 

Unfortunately, autism cannot be prevented, but some tips can ease the condition-

  • Help your child live a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and exercising.
  • Help your child learn to speak clearly and simply use short sentences.
  • Identify sensory triggers that may trouble your child, such as loud noises or bright lights. 
  • Praise and reward desired behaviors to encourage positive reinforcement. 
  • Use pictures or symbols to create predictable routines for daily activities, transitions, and unexpected changes. 

Living with Autism: A Disorder of Potential

Every child with ASD is unique. Also, it is a lifelong condition, but with the right support, people with Autism disorder can live a healthy and happy life. Caring for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) requires patience, understanding, and a commitment to creating a supportive environment. 

By recognizing the signs, seeking diagnosis, and implementing effective treatment plans, we can empower individuals with ASD to reach their full potential. Besides, if you have concerns about complications related to ASD, consult with a child psychologist and provide guidance and support.

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