How To Identify Signs And Symptoms Of Autism

How To Identify Signs And Symptoms Of Autism


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder,
characterized by troubles with social interaction, communication and certain
behaviours. This is a neurodevelopmental disorder over that can be
diagnosed in a child as young as 2 or 3 years of age. So, with autism or the autism spectrum, you have first, you know, the child has you know clear
difficulties with any form of social interaction so see even at perhaps 5 and 6 months
of age, when a baby is supposed to have say what we call as a milestone of a social smile,
that may be missing or as they grow older, you know, the need to play, the need
to interact, the need to make friends or maintain eye contact and just want to be
around peers and have social interaction seems to be lacking. The other aspect
clearly is when a child is between one and a half – two years of age and has delayed
speech and language skills and communication ability. So sometimes kids
completely non-mobile when they even seven or eight years of
age and we won’t have any speech and language skills and even with speech and
language their are two types. There is receptive language skills which are
ongoing and developing in autistic children but the expressive language skills
and expressing the emotions and feelings and even even words sometimes doesn’t, is not developed in these children and then thirdly, are the signs and symptoms of certain
behaviours. So children with autism, you know, the physicality of it is that
sometimes they have stimming, they have rocking. You know they rock their body to
and fro because of certain sensory problems or they don’t like to be
sometimes touched, they don’t like to be held, they don’t like any physical contact. Sometimes there are lot of occupational therapy needs or sensory needs in children with
autism. They also sometimes have low sitting tolerance and you know, poor
attention spans, concentration levels in focus. So, these are some of the kind
of signs and symptoms of what conglomerates the autism spectrum. When you look
at autism, it can be very very mild so what we use a term has Asperger’s
disorder and it can even be severe. So the spectrum means you can have all these
autistic signs and symptoms in a child who’s very very high-functioning. So,
such children have say a very average or very above average intellectual potential and
they are bright kids but then they have all these social and communication
problems which are mild in nature. Such children integrate better or well into
the your normal mainstream schools and perhaps even pick up jobs and are
successful in life. But that’s the high end of the spectrum. On the low end of the
spectrum, you can have severe autism with intellectual impairments or very very low
or not normal IQ levels as well. When there may be no speech and language, delayed
milestones and a very low IQ with more severe behaviors and more severe
problems in communication, eye contact and social skills. I don’t think we can cure a
neurodevelopmental disorder or cure a learning disorder or cure autism really. Those are maybe wrong terms to use but it’s not a curing of a cold or a cough or a fever
because these are long-standing neurodevelopmental problems where certain learning pathways or neurophysiological imbalances exist in the brain.
Can it get better? Yes, but early intervention is key. So, the
earlier you intervene with any neurodevelopmental disorder, the earlier you start treatment, you will definitely have a far better outcomes but
again it depends on where the child is on that spectrum. So there is. They’ve
been trying to find the specific gene related to autism but it’s all under
research and still studied but yes, when you look at the positive factors of any
neurodevelopmental disorder, we look at neurophysiological aspects, we look
at the neurodevelopmental aspects. We do know that certain pathways in the
brain haven’t been formulated properly there are certain anatomical changes in
the brain also that lead to certain neurodevelopmental disorders and
there are genetic factors also as well that play its part. But there is no
particular one reason as to what causes autism I mean in in in a few months I
mean a few years back there was some talks about certain vaccines in children
and mercury poisoning also leading to certain autism traits etc. but I
think all those are not, there’s no overall evidence behind what causes autism. So we don’t know why there is a surge
and increase in the diagnostics. I think one is because I think there is more
awareness as well. Yes there are far more cases of autism that we are seeing in
our practice today but there is no real cause again that has been identified as
to why so many more kids are being diagnosed with autism but I think the
key in this is also far more awareness. So, even us, as medical practitioners, we are now more far more aware more cognizant of
what you know the autistic traits are and what the autistic symptoms are.
So I think most schools are picking it up, more teachers are aware, more parents are
aware and I think that whole awareness is also bringing to light more diagnostics of the
spectrum. Like I mentioned you can be five and six months of age and not have
a social smile. You can have a child even under one, under two years of age and
there is no eye contact. You can have a child who’s reached three years of age and
not had any speech and language development. You can have a child who is
five and six years of age and still has the social skills or social behaviors of
a two-year-old. So, there is no specific month or age or year of when these symptoms
arise or go but we do know that there are these developmental delays, primarily in the areas of speech, language and communication, in social skills and thirdly, in behavior. So these are the three main aspects of milestones which are
compromised. We do need to do is that every time we
do know that there is a specific delay in development, again autism needs very
very early intervention. So when you look at or you speak about how to help a child who’s even
as young as two or three years of age with the diagnosis of autism, there’s a triad or three prong approach to autism. One is with early intervention
where you have to engage the child with occupation therapy because occupation
therapy works on improving the child’s sensory profile. It improves the child’s
sitting tolerance, the engagement, the social skills, the hand eye coordination, fine motor
skill development and all the other skills that go into pre-reading and pre-writing skills is what OT occupational therapy can help with. The
second, more of intervention is definitely speech and language therapy. That helps with communication, language development or the articulation of
speech and basically bridges the gaps of the speech and language development
areas as well. And the third dimension is a special educator or get working on a
remedial program to enhance the child’s academic skills of reading, writing or
math abilities and also sometimes what helps children with autism is assisted
behaviour therapy or behaviour therapy approaches through play therapy etc.
that again helps with improving the child’s social skills, social
engagement and communication abilities The biggest myth, if at all was is that autism is mental retardation which is not
true because some of the autistic kids that we have grown to know with are some of
the most bright and intelligent kids that we know where there IQs are normal but
let’s say their intellect is compartmentalized. So, for example there’s one
autistic kid who’s in our school. If I tell them that on the 26th of August, in three
years from now, which day will it fall on and he’ll give me the bang on correct answer. So, sometimes in it there is also
giftedness in autism where we have some amazing skills which they just have innately within them for places, for numbers, for art, for you know for memory skills
or with calendar aspects. So there are lot of amazing things that certain
autistic children can develop.

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