It is a lifelong condition affecting the life of the individual diagnosed with it.
The extent to which their quality of life is affected depends on the person’s position on the wide spectrum of the condition. The quality of life of the individual can be significantly improved when the diagnosis followed by appropriate interventions are set early in life.
By definition, an autistic person has a neurological disorder. When we talk about the condition, we need to understand it is a spectrum of developmental disabilities with individuals experiencing difficulties of varying degrees.
Additionally, the disorder is associated with sensory sensitivity (to light, sound, touch, etc.). What distinguishes this from other neurological conditions are symptoms of communication impairment connected to social interactions.
Additionally, ASD was reported in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
have pointed out to different reasons why there are more occurrences of ASD in men and boys. Correlations have been found between the diagnosis of the condition and:
- mutations in certain genes of the X chromosome
- fetal testosterone levels
- thicker cortex of the male brain
According to research, the symptoms of autism in women are not that different. It’s just that women and girls are better at hiding them.
Many autistic kids have normal language skills, yet experience challenges when it comes to socializing with people.
They might focus their attention on objects rather than people in their communication, have one-sided conversations or unusual language in the form of neologisms (making up new idiosyncratic words) and echolalia (repetition of certain words).
In rare cases, children with a severe case of ASD might be unable to talk.
Some signs of autism in toddlers to keep in mind
High functioning autism
- Avoiding eye contact
- Rocking or other repetitive body movements
- Not responding to their name
- Not smiling back
- Getting extremely upset if they don’t like a particular sound, food, or other sensation
could go undetected, so it is significant to be aware of signs of autism in adults
Autism signs and symptoms
Autism symptoms in adults and characteristics of autism spectrum involve the following:
- Communication problems include both the verbal and nonverbal areas.
- Establishing eye contact
- Inability to give appropriate responses in social interactions
- Trouble establishing and keeping relationships with others
- Delay or lack of communicative gesture use and spoken language development
- Reading body language and other non-verbal cues come uneasily for a person with ASD. Additionally, understanding complex language is a struggle, like sarcasm or emotions expressed through a tone of voice or facial expressions. Eye contact is remarkably difficult and often avoided.
- As a part of ASD, oversensitivity to light, sound or particular objects can happen.
- Finally, repetitive behaviors are quite common (like clapping or head banging), as well as an insistence on routine. Depending on the level of functioning, the extent of routine and obsessive behaviors varies. Focusing on a topic of interest to the exclusion of others can happen as well.
- Challenges in the ability to converse, and unusual language
- Difficulty understanding what others feel or think
- Social anxiety
- Taking things literally and not comprehending complex language (such as sarcasm)
- Maintaining a routine
- Being blunt or rude without wanting to be.
Diagnoses and types of ASD
The recent revision of Diagnostic Criteria Manual 5 embodies under one umbrella term of Autism spectrum disorder multiple disorders.
DSM IV - R had types of autism divided into four different categories:
- Classic autism
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS)
- Asperger's syndrome
Besides ASD, DSM 5 utilizes another type called social communication disorder.
How is autism diagnosed?
An ASD diagnosis is made based on two main criteria:
- Difficulties in social communication
- Repetitive, restricted behaviors or interests
Both need to be present and have to start in early childhood. To receive a social communication disorder diagnosis, the first criteria is necessary - an impairment in social interactions. The repetitive behaviors might not be present at all or present in a mild way that doesn’t meet the severity of an ASD diagnosis.
Points to consider:
- People diagnosed with it can vary from being severely disabled through to high functioning autism accompanied by high IQ.
- Three out of four children experience some intellectual disability, while one in four having an IQ in the average range. Furthermore, abilities can be unevenly distributed with areas of strengths and weaknesses.
- One in four children with ASD has some areas of remarkable skill.
- Some of the people diagnosed with ASD can have exceptional skills in memory, mathematics, problem solving or music (savantism). However, this is exceedingly rare (one in a million people).
Connection to Asperger's Syndrome
There is still some controversy regarding Asperger's Syndrome being integrated into the autistic spectrum in DSM 5. Asperger’s symptoms
- Average to above-average intelligence
- Challenges with social interactions
- Preoccupying interests in special topics
However, people formerly diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome might not meet the diagnostic criteria for ASD. Since there is no Asperger’s test, the disagreement among experts prevails.
Asperger’s syndrome’s symptoms make some experts describe it as different, but not necessarily an abnormal way of thinking since it includes: the heightened ability of attention to detail, recognition of patterns others oversight, original way of thinking and capacity to pursue specific interest even against other’s disagreement.
If a diagnosis has not been set in childhood, ASD, as well as Asperger’s in adults, can be hard to differentiate especially when it has a high functioning nature.
High-functioning autism symptoms include:
- Emotional sensitivity
- Fixation on certain ideas
- Verbal idiosyncrasies
- Social difficulty and problems processing physical sensations
Since there is no test for Autism and Asperger's, the severity of symptoms is of great significance in diagnostics.
Autism Therapists in Popular Cities
What causes autism?
Many efforts have been produced to discover the causes of ASD.
Researchers have devoted their attention to both genetic and environmental factors, but the exact cause is unknown. ASD is likely caused
by multiple factors interacting in complex ways (i.e. genes, environment, and brain development).
Despite widespread concerns, vaccines and ASD are not linked, recent studies
proved. The controversial 1998 study that suggests there is a link between ASD and the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine was later debunked by other research.
Some large-scale studies are planned to gain more understanding of the etiology of ASD (i.e. CHARGE
- Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and Environment study at University California-Davis).
Research points out several factors that may cause the disorder. The list of causes also includes:
- Low birth weight
- Viral infections
- Imbalances in metabolism
- Having a family member with the condition
- Exposure to toxins
How does therapy help in the treatment of ASD?
Diagnosing ASD might require several specialists and it is not recommended to try and make a diagnosis yourself.
If you are worried about your child’s development or certain behaviors, consult your physician and ask for a referral to a specialist in the area. Turn to friends that might know a trustworthy person who can devote time to your child and your family.
Some of the behaviors that children with ASD exhibit can be found in toddlers without any diagnosis, which makes determining the diagnosis much harder. A debate is still active at which age can the diagnosis be made, with most agreeing not sooner than 2 or 3 years of child’s age. Again, the severity of the symptoms will play a role too, as in the more severe cases it can be made sooner.
If you are worried, it is best to contact a physician as early diagnosis and treatment can be a crucial factor in the prognosis. Once ASD is confirmed, a team of specialists will create an action plan for the whole family.
It can include:
- Speech therapy
- Behavior and social skills therapy
- Environmental changes
- Strategies for family support
Over time the plan will be adjusted according to the child’s needs and the needs of the family.
What’s the best treatment for ASD?
Many specials believe Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) to be a gold-standard for ASD.
What is ABA therapy?
supports individuals to improve their social and learning skills, as well as their communication. Like any other autism therapy, it is tailored for a particular person and looks therefore different for each client. Anyhow, in the early stages of autism counseling, a therapist
will devote time to observing the child’s behavior and communication level.
What to expect from ABA therapy for Autism?
A plan designed by the ABA therapist will include strategies for reducing harmful behaviors, like self-injury, as well as strategies for communication improvements.
The method will include other caregivers (parents, teachers, etc.) as well. The therapist will work with caregivers on helping them learn how to best support their child and reinforce the work done with the therapist.
The end goal depends on the child’s challenges and needs. However, the plan made should help them:
- show more interest in other people and more diverse topics
- improve verbal skills and communication
- reduce self-harming behaviors
- increase focus
ABA therapy examples of interventions include:
- verbal behavior interventions focusing on improving language skills
- pivotal response training allowing the child to take the lead in a learning activity
- discrete trial training for skill improvement through structured task completion and rewards
Cost of Autism therapy
Treatment cost will depend on the action plan and the severity of the symptoms.
Usually, an hour of ABA therapy for autism costs around $120, though this number can vary. Many children show improvement after several months, but this too can vary.
To understand what are the prices in your area, try searching “ABA therapy near me” as prices can vary based on the location too.
Autism Therapists in united states
Autism spectrum disorder implies there are no two children with ASD that will show exactly the same signs and symptoms. Therefore, there are no precise criteria for ASD diagnosis.
Two key elements need to be present through:
- Social communication impairment
- Repetitive, restricted behaviors
Timely diagnosis and intervention improve the prognosis and future quality of life.
Autism awareness allows to recognize the early signs of autism and have a timely reaction. Therefore, if you are concerned, talk to a physician and decrease the future impact of disability.
Based on the unique strengths and challenges, a treatment plan is created that involves caregivers.
Accepting the diagnosis of your child can be a daunting task and you might think about finding support for yourself. The whole family can be impacted and therefore the family should be included in the treatment plan.
A support system can assist the family, and the child with ASD has a better future and a more outstanding quality of life.