Autism is not a disease that can be cured with medication. Instead, it is a condition where the individual requires support, care, and understanding of others. So, in this month dedicated to Autism, let’s take some time to understand it and sensitize ourselves to the needs of autistic individuals.
What Is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a blanket term used to describe patients with various neurodevelopmental problems. The symptoms of this condition start appearing right from the early days of a baby’s life. Sometimes, as early as 12 months of age. These children have difficulty in interacting socially and communicating and may also display repetitive behaviour.
In some cases, the patients are entirely dependent on their caregivers to perform day-to-day functions, while others may function independently. Hence, parents need to identify the symptoms of Autism in their children and start early intervention to overcome some of its challenges.
What Causes Autism?
While the cause for Autism is still not fully known, many experts believe that the following reasons can be responsible for the condition:
- Viral infection during pregnancy
- It runs in the family
- Low birth weight of the baby
- Imbalance of metabolism
- Prolonged exposure to environmental toxins
Several other factors are being studied to understand the exact reason for Autism in children.
What Are The Symptoms Of ASD?
Most children with ASD start displaying the symptoms right from infancy. However, there are also cases where the symptoms show up later on in their childhood.
The symptoms of this disorder are divided into 2 broad categories, and they are as follows:
Communication and Social Interaction Problems
- The child may have difficulty maintaining a conversation, expressing their emotions or feelings, etc.
- The child will have trouble making eye contact or understanding non-verbal communication like hugging.
- The child may find it challenging to make friends or other relationships with peers or family members.
- The child will have delayed speech development.
- The child may prefer to play alone rather than with other children.
Restricted or Repetitive Pattern or Behaviour Problems
- The child may exhibit repetitive movements, actions, or speech patterns.
- The child may get agitated if his/her routine is changed or broken.
- The child may react negatively to loud noises or bright lights, or other specific sensory information.
- The child will exhibit unusual behaviour like lining up toys or keeping them in a particular way.
Some Other Characteristics That A Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder May Exhibit Are:
- Flapping hands, rocking the body back and forth, or spinning in circles.
- Aggression or tantrums when things don’t go their way.
- Limited attention span.
- Talking in limited words or not using gestures.
- Getting agitated easily.
- Not responding to their name or mommy’s voice.
How Can Autism Be Treated?
Although there is no cure for ASD, several therapies ease the symptoms and improve quality of life.
- Speech therapy to improve your child’s communication skills
- Behavioural therapy to improve their social skills and manage their aggression
- Physical therapy to improve their motor skills and co-ordination
- Meditation therapy to help them relax and stay calm
- Occupational therapy to improve their day-to-day living by teaching them basics like brushing their teeth, toilet training, dressing, etc.
While these therapies aim to make the Autistic child more independent, the treatment for the condition involves high vitamin supplements, chelation therapy to remove any metals in their body, melatonin medication to improve sleep quality, etc. The doctor administers these treatments after carefully studying the patient’s condition and history. As the field of medical science progresses, the treatment options for Autism will also hopefully increase. Presently, researchers are studying the Stem cell banking benefits to cure Autism. However, it is too early to see any concrete results.
Let’s stay positive and focus on giving the autistic child all the love, care and support needed to have a happy life.