Autism is an umbrella term condition in which the patient has a complicated developmental disability. A person suffering from autism will have varying brain function that affects communication and social skills. These social issues make communicating with others difficult, especially because autism usually begins to show symptoms from ages one to three in toddlers. Some of these symptoms include resistance to change, inability to make eye contact, differing reactions to physical contact, and difficulty learning to speak.
Autism is a condition that has symptoms that can be extremely disruptive to everyday life for the patient. The difficulty communicating is just one of these symptoms that may not be harmful physically, but is disruptive to the development and overall life quality of the patient. The list below contains the symptoms of autism that are most commonly found in patients. Please note that one patient may not experience every symptom of autism, as there are many different forms of the condition.
- Difficulty maintaining eye contact
- Lack of empathy
- Difficulty relating to or making friends with peers
- Difficulty in developing speech
- Problems making conversation
- Repeating several overused phrases
- Problems differentiating sarcasm from seriousness
- Difficulty identifying humor
- Obsessive behaviors
Doctors and researchers are not completely sure as to why autism occurs. It is known, however, that the child’s chance of getting autism increases with some antibiotic use during pregnancy, influenza during pregnancy, genetic mutation, and persistent fever during pregnancy. While the mother is pregnant she should be sure to have frequent check-ups by her doctor to be sure that autism is not being caused by sickness or prescription drug use. These causes have been scientifically proven. Please be sure to note that vaccines do not cause autism, and if you do not vaccinate your child, then you are putting your child and other children in danger.
In order for a doctor or sleep specialist to diagnose the patient with autism, the doctor must do two tests. One is developmental screening, which is a short examination that determines how well the child is developing. If the child does not score well in more than one category in this test, then the doctor would look into this case further. The second diagnostic test that the doctor will do in order to diagnose autism is a comprehensive development evaluation. This evaluation covers genetic testing, neurological testing, interviews with the parents, hearing tests, and vision tests. These two diagnostic evaluations will allow a physician to properly diagnose a child with autism. It is important, however, to remember that these tests may be prone to bias. Always chose a doctor that you trust completely.
Autism is a disorder that does not currently have a cure. Although several foundations such as Autism Speaks are funding research, a cure for autism is years away. The treatments that are available for a child or adult with autism are mostly to help the patient deal with the neurological development issues that come with autism. These treatments function in order to allow the autistic individual to process sensory information and make sense of the world. The treatments used for treating autism are listed below:
- Behavioral therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- Speech therapy
- Sensory integration
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Personal instruction in education
- Applied Behavioral Analysis