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Autism Spectrum Disorder:  Different but not less

A complex neurobehavioral condition which includes impairments in developmental language and social interaction combined with rigid communication skills is called autism spectrum disorder.  Children having autism may have trouble communicating and even have trouble in understanding what others feel and think which makes hard for them to express them. Children suffering from this condition may have repetitive stereotyped body movements like hand flapping, pacing or rocking.

Often accompanied by other medical conditions and challenges, autism has the following symptoms:

  1. Core autism symptoms
  • Social deficit
  • Language impairment
  • Repetitive behaviour
  1. Associated neurological issues
  • Sleep disorders
  • Mood disorder
  • Hyperactivity
  • Anxiety
  1. Associated systematic issues
  • Immune dysfunction
  • GI Disorders
  1. Related disorders
  • Intellectual disability
  • OCD
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety disorder

Usually, this condition is life-long but symptoms can be reduced by some interventions or therapies and to increase abilities and skills.

Challenges faced due to autism:

  • Social challenges

Normally infants are social by nature as they gaze at faces, smile, grasp a finger and turn towards voices by 2 or 3 months of age but children who develop autism have difficulty in engaging in daily activities. By 8-10 months infants having autism shows symptoms like delaying babbling, failure to respond to their names, reduced interest in people around them, difficulty in plying social games, prefer to play alone, fail to respond to their parents and often displays anger or affection in distinctive ways.

Children having this condition are attached to their parents but can express their feelings in unusual ways. Many people with this condition find difficulty in seeing things from others view. This is not a universal condition but common. They can show an immature behaviour like having an outburst or crying at inappropriate situations which can lead to physically aggressive and disruptive behaviour.

  • Communication difficulties

Mostly by the first birthday, toddlers say a word or two, turn around when hear their name, say no when offered something distasteful to them, point to objects they want but children having this disorder tend to have delayed in speaking, babbling and learning gestures. Some may develop autism later in life and behave like normal children before losing their communicative behaviour. Some may don’t begin to speak much later.

Many adults and children learn to use nonverbal communication system like showing pictures, electronic word processors, and sign language. Some person may find difficulty in combining words into a whole sentence and speak only single words and repeat them over and over again. This stage which they are facing is known as verbatim.

  • Repetitive behaviour

Another core symptom of autism is repetitive behaviour which has a tendency to engage in a very restricted range of activities which includes repeating sound and words or phrases, hand flapping, arranging and rearranging objects, wiggling fingers in front of their eyes. Sometimes it can be very upsetting if someone interrupts the order. They demand and need extreme consistency in their daily routine. In older age adults and children may develop a great interest in numbers, dates, symbols, science topics.

How is autism treated??

Some early intervention program and therapies have confirmed the benefits to the people suffering from this condition like Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Early Start Denver Model, Pivotal response therapy, verbal behaviour therapy.

The goal of the treatment is to maximize the child’s ability to function as it

Can’t be cured fully.

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