Autism is a complex brain disorder that makes it difficult for individuals to communicate or interact socially. The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, often is referred to as Autism. This diagnosis can show symptoms and severity in many different forms. Cases range from mild to severe, with some individuals just needing help when encountering loud noises or learning how to express certain emotions and others needing significant help interacting with the world.
According to the University of Washington Autism Center, Autism affects 1 in 88 children. Many of the symptoms of kids with Autism are common with kids during the first years their life. The difference between kids with Autism and kids just going through a phase is that those with Autism may show those behaviors to a higher degree and they do not typically grow out of those behaviors without treatment.
Autism is usually diagnosed within the first three years of a child’s life. Autism Speaks outlines some of the signs to look for when determining whether a child may be affected by autism. They include:
- Failure to smile or show other happy expressions
- Lack of babbling by the first birthday
- No talking by 16 months
- Not trying to communicate through gestures by the first birthday
- No response when called by name
- Lack of eye contact
- Not engaging in imaginative play as a toddler
- Repetitive use of language
- Lining up or ordering toys
- Lack of flexibility when it comes to routines and rituals
When it comes to treating Autism, the University of Washing Autism Center says that early intervention is key. Children can be diagnosed with Autism as early as 18 months and begin receiving treatment. Those who begin treatments and therapies early have a much greater chance of experience an increase in IQ and language skills, as well as being able to function with fewer support systems later in life.
There are many treatment options and therapies that can help children with Autism learn to communicate and interact socially. They may participate in Applied Behavioral Analysis, learn sign language and practice interacting in different settings. In some cases children may also receive medication to cope with related issues such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. There is much research on special diets to help reduce triggers, such as staying away from gluten and other triggers.
For more information on Autism, a great resource is the Marcus Autism Center.