Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. People with ASD have problems to interact and communicate with people. They may have restricted interests and repetitive patterns of behavior.
There are two main dimensions of the ASD: (1) Inadequacy in social communication, and (2) repetitive behaviors.
In the seminal psychology book “DSM IV”, there are five subgroups of the disorder. They are autism disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, Rett’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder that cannot be otherwise specified. DSM V, the new edition, is not using this classification anymore.
Patients with ASD experience difficulties with social skills, language development and behaviors. They have challenges in communicating with other people and finding friends. They have also difficulties with the things they are told to do.
There is not only one reason of the ASD. It is considered that there have been many factors that have an impact on ASD. It is regarded that brains of ASD patients functions differently due to the brain anomalies and abnormalities in chemical transmitters. Genetic factors are also considered important, in that, prevalence of ASD is higher in children who has a sibling with ASD, and in identical twins than fraternal twins.
The prevalence of the ASD is three to five times more in boys that it is in girls. The prevalence in the society is 1%. Because the brain continues to develop, diagnosis is generally made after the age of three. Subject matter expert physicians may make the diagnosis in the age of two.
How can you understand that a child may have ASD?
ASD diagnosis is generally made based on the information received from the family and observations. When the child has problems with speaking and communicating, playing together with others, performing routine and repetitive body movements, and insisting on the same behaviors, autism may be considered.
In general, social communication and interaction is problematic for the children with ASD.
Although babies with ASD diagnosis experience problems with sleeping and nourishment, their physical development is usually healthy. Some of the babies with ASD may be less interested, and they sit and walk late.
Babies with ASD have weaker eye contact and smile. Their reactions to the sounds are also weak. While babies are expected to mimic sounds by 9 months and babble or coo by 12 months, these behaviors cannot be observed for the babies with ASD. They also cannot say two-word phrases by 24 months. They cannot give apparent reactions to the separations and unions.
When the child is 2-3 years, if s/he cannot speak, greet by shaking hands, does not participate in playing activities, is indulgent with watching TV and listening to the music, risk of autism may be considered. Other symptoms are walking on toes and repetitive behaviors such as clapping and swinging.
Children with ASD use their facial expressions barely at their age of four and five, and they have difficulties with communication with their peers. Their physical development is like other healthy children. In general, their motor skills are good.
These children can usually say their first words at their age of five. They establish short sentences and repeat what they are said in a monotonous tone.
Since children with ASD are resistant to the change, they experience adaptation problems when they start school. Although they are willing to make friends, this results in a disappointment because they cannot communicate well. Nevertheless, their communication and self-care skills improve with increasing age.
The resistance against the change continues during the adolescence period. Tantrums, hurting themselves or others, and inappropriate sexual behaviors may occur.
Is autism treatable?
The only treatment method in autism is the special education. Treatment with medication does not provide a significant improvement in the symptoms of ASD.
Plays in which the family and teachers participate actively are of high importance. Starting the plays and supporting the walking make substantial contribution to these children’s development. It is essential for the children that their families give the priority to the plays which children prefer and continue to participate in the play from the bottom of their hearts.
Sensory integration therapy helps children with ASD learn how to utilize their positioning and balance senses together besides the five senses. Therefore, this therapy can help increase and normalize children’s eye contact, social communication and daily activities by enhanced attention.
Developments in stem cell treatment are also promising for the autism. Indian A. Sharma team reported that 90% recovery was achieved in approximately one and a half year with the injection of a child’s mononuclear cells obtained from child’s own bone marrow, and customized intense physical therapy and rehabilitation.
In the Rett Syndrome, it is necessary to prevent and stop the progress in the motor development delay and spinal curvature by implementing physiotherapy. It has been observed that special education and physiotherapy could slow down or prevent the degeneration.
Children with Asperger’s syndrome need special education. They can benefit from physical therapy and rehabilitation methods, occupation therapy and sensory integration therapy in order to improve their motor skills.
Starts until the age of three.
Starts after the age of four.
Difficulty with speaking
Speaks relatively more.
Is not aware of lack of her/his social interactions.
Is aware of the lack of social interactions.