By Dr. Neeta Naik, Pediatric Neurology
Autism involves a triad of impairments – in social interaction, in communication and the use of language, and in limited imagination as reflected in restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior and activities.
It is a lifelong, nonprogressive neurological disorder typically appearing before the age of three years. The word “autism” means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction.
Autism is a spectrum disorder. The symptoms and characteristics of autism present themselves in a various combination, from mild to severe. Although autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors, children and adults can exhibit any combination of the behaviours in any degree of severity.
- Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
- Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words, not responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf although hearing tests in normal range.
- Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
- Laughing, crying, showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
- Self-absorbed, poor eye contact
- Difficulty in mixing with others
- May not want to cuddle or be cuddled
- Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
- Sustained odd play, Spins objects, inappropriate attachments to objects
- Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
- Uneven gross/fine motor skills
Here are five things you might not have known about Autism -
1. Autism is not rare: Awareness of Autism as a disorder is not wide-spread and therefore one may think of it as a rare disorder. Many cases remain undetected and unreported. And since there are no blood tests or any other medical tests for it, diagnosis can be difficult. But with the increased number of cases, one can safely say that it is rare.
2. The Symptoms of Autism Are Not the Same for Everyone: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term that encompasses several complex disorders pertaining to the development of the brain. The common misconception that people with autism have superior intellect and special abilities is more fiction than fact. This disorder stems from impaired brain development. Though some might excel in music or cognitive memory, others might have great difficulty dealing with social interactions.
3. Autism may be predicted in early infancy: After extensive research, now it is possible to detect some of the pre-symptom markers of Autism. Though the core symptoms manifest themselves usually after or near the child’s first birthday, it is possible to recognize markers as early as the initial six months of birth. This will help parents adapt and seek treatments and counsel to educate themselves on their child’s needs.