Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and stereotypical, repetitive and restrictive patterns of behaviours, interests and activities.
A. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioural challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.
B. A diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) now includes various conditions as listed:
• Autistic disorder (classic autism).
• Asperger’s disorder (Asperger syndrome).
• Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
• Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD).
A. The CDC survey found that around 1 in 110 children has Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Boys face about four to five times higher risk than girls.
B. Estimated prevalence 1.12 [INCLEN study, unpublished data].
C. The incidence of Autism spectrum disorder in males 1:42 whereas in females it about 1:189.
D. This makes that every 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder.
A. In the social communication domain:
• Delayed social smile
• Impairment in eye-to-eye contact, facial expressions, body postures and gestures
• Lack of spontaneous sharing of enjoyment and interests with other people
• Poor social interaction
B. In behavioural domain:
• Body rocking, finger twirling, hand flapping, spinning and tiptoe walking
• Fascination with certain numbers, letters, schedules, animate or inanimate objects, especially parts of a toy.
• Inflexible adherence to non functional routines or rituals.
• Visual: Seeing things from a particular angle.
• Auditory: Pretends to be deaf, capping hand over their ears.
• Olfactory : Sniffing objects.
• Perceptual : Refusing to eat food with certain textures or tastes, mouthing of objects, compulsive touching of certain objects or t extures, diminished response to pain, increased sensitivity to touch like the feel of running water, adversity to bathing.
• Mood may be inappropriate to the situation or circumstances.
• Uncontrollable crying or laughing.
• May be oblivious to hazards or may have excessive fear of harmless objects.
• Not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
• Not look at objects when another person points at them
• Have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
• Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
• Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
• Prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
• Appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
• Be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
• Repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
• Have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
• Not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)
• Repeat actions over and over again
• Have trouble adapting when a routine changes
• Have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
• Lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)
• Babbling by 12 months
• Gesturing (e.g., pointing, waving bye-bye) by 12 months
• Single words by 16 months
• Two-word spontaneous (not just echolalia) phrases by 24 months
Loss of any language or social skills at any age
While there’s no proven cure yet for Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), treating Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) early, using school-based programs, and getting proper medical care can greatly reduce Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms and increase your child’s ability to grow and learn new skills.
Research has shown that intensive behavioural therapy during the toddler or preschool years can significantly improve cognitive and language skills in young children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
There is no single best treatment for all children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but the common features of effective early intervention programs include:
• Starting as soon as a child has been diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
• Providing focused and challenging learning activities at the proper developmental level for the child for at least 25 hours per week and 12 months per year.
• Having small classes to allow each child to have one-on-one time with the therapist or teacher and small group learning activities.
• Having special training for parents and family.
• Encouraging activities that include typically developing children, as long as such activities help meet a specific learning goal.
• Measuring and recording each child’s progress and adjusting the intervention program as needed.
• Providing a high degree of structure, routine, and visual cues, such as posted activity schedules and clearly defined boundaries, to reduce distractions.
• Guiding the child in adapting learned skills to new situations and settings and maintaining learned skills.
• Using a curriculum that focuses on Language and communication.
• Social skills, such as joint attention (looking at other people to draw attention to something interesting and share in experiencing it).
• Self-help and daily living skills, such as dressing and grooming.
• Research-based methods to reduce challenging behaviours, such as aggression and tantrums.
• Cognitive skills, such as pretend play or seeing someone else’s point of view.
• Typical school-readiness skills, such as letter recognition and counting.
• One type of a widely accepted treatment is applied behaviour analysis (ABA).
• The goals of ABA are to shape and reinforce new behaviours, such as learning to speak and play, and reduce undesirable ones.
Sensory problems :
• Many children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) either overreact or under react to certain sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes.
For example, some may:
• Dislike or show discomfort from a light touch or the feel of clothes on their skin
• Experience pain from certain sounds, like a vacuum cleaner, a ringing telephone, or a sudden storm; sometimes they will cover their ears and scream.
• Have no reaction to intense cold or pain.
Sleep problems :
• Children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, or have other sleep problems. These problems make it harder for them to pay attention, reduce their ability to function, and lead to poor behavior.
Intellectual disability :
• Many children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have some degree of intellectual disability. When tested, some areas of ability may be normal, while others—especially cognitive (thinking) and language abilities—may be relatively weak.
• One in four children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has seizures, often starting either in early childhood or during the teen years. Seizures. Sometimes lack of sleep or a high fever can trigger a seizure.
Fragile X syndrome :
• Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder and is the most common form of inheritence. An Intellectual disability, causing symptoms similar to Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Because this disorder is inherited, children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) should be checked for Fragile X, especially if the parents want to have more children.
Tuberous sclerosis :
• Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic disorder that causes noncancerous tumors to grow in the brain and other vital organs. Tuberous sclerosis occurs in 1 to 4 percent of people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Gastrointestinal problems :
• Some parents of children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) report that their child has frequent gastrointestinal (GI) or digestion problems, including stomach pain, diarrhoea, constipation, acid reflux, vomiting, or bloating.
Co-occurring mental disorders:
• Children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can also develop mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or depression.