Currently, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that encompasses a wide range of symptoms, including differences in social interaction, rigid and repetitive behaviors, and sensory-based motor impairments. Some autistic people do not smile or engage in verbal interactions well until they are six months old, and by nine months, they are not using words or engaging in social interaction at all. A child with ASD does not understand non-verbal communication, either, and can appear disinterested in social situations.
Researchers have determined that certain genetic factors are associated with a child’s risk for autism, but have not yet discovered the exact cause. In addition, MRIs of children with autism show abnormalities when compared to neurotypical children. Researchers are examining several theories, including hereditary risk and other medical issues, to find the cause of autism. Autism is also associated with a number of behavioral and cognitive disorders, including atypical facial expressions and repetitive behaviors.
Some children show the first signs of autism during infancy, including reduced eye contact, a lack of response to the name of a caregiver, and indifference toward other children. In order to be diagnosed with autism, a child must exhibit both categories. Symptoms may range from a low-functioning autism diagnosis to a high-functioning autism diagnosis. However, if a child exhibits both types of symptoms, they may have an ASD.
There are three levels of autism severity, each indicating the degree of support a child needs in order to function in the general community. These levels are based on context and the degree of restricted repetitive behaviors. They may fluctuate over time, and the severity levels are used only as descriptive indicators, not diagnostic criteria. However, it is important to note that autistic people may display all or only some of these behaviors. However, these behaviors are all indicators of autism spectrum disorder and must be properly evaluated by a medical expert.
If a child with ASD exhibits certain behaviors, such as recurrent speech patterns or a slow language processing speed, it is crucial to seek specialized evaluation from a pediatrician. A developmental pediatrician may recommend that parents engage in structured activities with their child to identify the root cause of their child’s behaviors. Additional tests may be necessary to rule out other conditions that may be contributing to the child’s symptoms. Some doctors recommend deferring autism diagnosis until the child reaches a certain age. However, even in ambiguous cases, early diagnosis can make a huge difference to a child’s development, providing access to supportive community resources and treatment options.
The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is based on a thorough diagnostic evaluation by a team of healthcare professionals. This team usually includes a pediatrician and a psychologist, and may include other specialists as well. The evaluation should include standardized observation of the child and their behavior, as well as assessments of their learning abilities. It should also evaluate any hearing disorders that may be a symptom of ASD. The results of the evaluation will inform the child’s parents and caregivers of the best services and therapies available for him or her.
Early diagnosis is essential to ensuring an accurate diagnosis. The best way to treat autism is to diagnose it early. Early intervention is the most effective, but even if a child is diagnosed later, he or she can still benefit from interventions to improve skills, communication, and language development. The benefits of intervention may outweigh the negative effects of early diagnosis and treatment. In rare cases, a child may develop skills that allow him or her to function normally.
In addition to having a lower than normal IQ, a child with autism can have difficulties with social interaction. Their speech may be sporadic or erratic. Their communication skills may develop unevenly and they may have a strong vocabulary for a single topic, but struggle to communicate with others about different topics. They may also speak in a strange tone or sound, such as a robotic or high-pitched voice.
A child’s autism diagnosis can be accurate as early as 18 months of age, but is more likely to be reliable at two years of age by a highly trained medical professional. Early detection is vital for children with ASD as the earlier the diagnosis is, the sooner the child can begin treatment and receive the necessary services. For many children, this early diagnosis means the opportunity for earlier intervention. But the sooner a child is diagnosed, the better.