SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER IN CHILDREN
According to a report by CDC, every 1 in 54 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
What is ASD?
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a developmental disability, which damages a child’s ability to socially interact with people and causes communication issues. A child with ASD may not look different but may act in ways that most children of their age don’t. Their learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities range from gifted to severely challenged and includes limited or repetitive patterns of behavior. Hence, some children need a lot of help in their daily lives, others need significantly less.
The term spectrum signifies the wide range of signs, symptoms and their severity. Also, the diagnosis of ASD is now used for disorders like autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger Syndrome which used to be treated separately.
How to identify it in children?
Unlike other diseases, the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is not possible as there is no medical test like a blood test to detect the disorder. An experienced professional analyses the previous developmental records and behavior and diagnoses the disorder. ASD, sometimes, is diagnosed at the age of 12 to 18 months or may take 2 years. However, there have been cases where the disorder is not diagnosed they are adolescents or adults. In such as case, they might not receive the early help for ASD.
There are some early signs to identify ASD, including avoiding eye contact, showing less interest for other children or caretakers, limited or very less use of language for communication, or getting irritated by little changes in daily routine.
Some signs and symptoms?
Children with ASD face huge difficulty in communication and social interaction skills. Some of the communication characteristics include :
- Avoids or does not maintain eye contact.
- Does not respond to name or even show facial expressions of sad, angry or happy by 9 months of age
- Does not share personal interests or likes with others, not even mothers by 15 months of age
- Cannot identify or look at things you’re pointing at by 18 months of age
- Shows very little interest in other children and could not identify others’ feelings of sadness, pain, etc. by 24 months of age
Children with ASD show unusual behavior and interests, unlike other disorders with just communication defects. Some instances of restricted or repetitive interests and behavior include :
- Keeps the toys and objects in order and gets upset when the order is disrupted.
- Repeats the same words over and over and plays the same way every time.
- Follows a strict routine and gets irritated upon small changes.
There are some other characteristics like :
- Delayed language and movement skills
- Delayed cognitive or learning skills
- Hyperactive or inattentive behavior
- Unusual eating and sleeping habits and hence gastrointestinal issues like constipation
- Unusual mood or emotional reaction with anxiety, stress or excessive worry
The important thing to note here is children with ASD show some of the behaviors or sometimes none.
How to manage or treat it?
According to CDC, there is no medical treatment as such for ASD. But it can be controlled by therapy. Also, early diagnosis may help reduce symptoms. Behavioral, educational and family therapies can help in support development and learning. Some of the notable therapies include Behavioral management therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, educational, school-based or joint attention therapy and nutritional therapy.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed/shared in the blog above are personal thoughts of the writer. Berrytree recommends you consult with your doctor/pediatrician/family before instinctively following any suggested steps.