Learn the Facts on Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition affecting the way a child perceives and relate to others, is a broad term encompassing a range of related conditions. Most individuals with ASDs have normal to above average intelligence and are generally capable of communicating with others. However, some with ASDs present profound impairment in social and communication skills. Those with ASDs usually exhibit different symptoms than typical children, including a significantly reduced number of friends or interactions with classmates, difficulty with transitions between tasks and relationships with peers, and low self-esteem.
Common characteristics of autism spectrum disorder include: poor relationships with friends and family, a tendency to prefer sameness, repeating movements and words, and restricted interests. Individuals with ASDs may be very different from a normal child in physical appearance as well as in appearance and language. Many have an obsession with one particular toy or item and will spend hours trying to play with it. Others with autism spectrum disorder have very fixed interests that are not easily adaptable to new situations. They may also seem to dislike or avoid contact with people who do not share their interests.
Research on autism spectrum disorder has revealed several genes that appear to be related to this disorder. These studies suggest that individuals with autism spectrum disorder possess abnormal brain development in the area of social interaction. Researchers believe the abnormal brain development occurs in areas of the brain responsible for recognizing and responding to body language, eye contact, facial expression, and nonverbal communication. This abnormal brain development affects the way an individual responds to social stimuli, which in turn leads to problems with social interaction.
Studies also indicate that individuals with autism spectrum disorder are at a greater risk of developing other developmental disorders as well. These studies suggest a greater risk of depression, substance abuse, school dropout, and anxiety. Individuals suffering from developmental disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorders also show a higher risk of suffering from depression. Individuals with higher levels of stress, obesity, and low self-esteem also have a greater risk of developing other serious health issues such as obesity, depression, substance abuse, and school dropout. The severity of each developmental disorder ranges from moderate to severe.
It is difficult to determine whether or not a child may have autism spectrum disorder. Diagnosis is usually based on observing the child’s behavior and communication skills. Parents and teachers typically note on a behavioral profile, including the frequency of requests for additional information and if the child seems to have difficulties with common developmental activities, or seems to be excessively sensitive or aggressive. Interviews with the child, the teacher, and the parents can also provide valuable information regarding the child’s symptoms. Teachers and parents may also observe the child in a social situation and note what types of behaviors they notice.
When a child exhibits the autism spectrum disorder symptoms of excessive concern about social skills, repetitive movements, and sensitivity to changes in the environment, he or she may be suffering from autism spectrum disorder. These symptoms appear early in life and remain present for the majority of children with that disorder throughout the years. A child who repeatedly asks “what?” at every social event may be suffering from repetitive behavior because of abnormal brain processing.
Autistic children have a variety of different types of symptoms. Some have high level of intelligence, but are extremely sensitive to negative stimuli such as music, words, and looks. Other symptoms will include repeating patterns, simulations, twitching, and physical movements. This last symptom is the most common in autistic spectrum disorders because it is the result of extreme stimulation. It is also the most common in non-autistic spectrum disorders because non-autistic people can be highly reactive to external stimuli. A hyperactive state of responding to these stimuli can increase the severity of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.
Most doctors will treat autism spectrum disorder with anti-psychotic medications, behavioral therapy, or sometimes with steroids. There are several types of treatments available today. You do not have to rely on traditional medical practices and stick with one type of treatment. Doctors in the past used a one size fits all approach to treatment which rarely worked. More doctors are learning how to treat autism spectrum disorder using a variety of approaches. The sooner you get started, the better you will be able to control and manage your symptoms and live the life that you want.