Autism signs

When beginning a family, most parents hope for a healthy child. In the case of autism, most newborns appear perfectly healthy and normal. Autism is a congenital disorder, meaning it is present at birth but it is difficult to diagnose during infancy; it usually becomes more apparent during the toddler stage. When the child does not like being held, doesn’t begin to talk, and playing games doesn’t draw his/her interest, autism becomes a concern. Parents also feel that their child may not be able to hear well or at all for they do not respond to their own name.

Autism affects about 1 in every 1000 people here in the United States alone. Autism can affect any race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class. It affects boys three to four times more often than girls although the reason is unknown. There is no cure for autism but with proper care, most autism cases are handled successfully without the need for institutionalization whereas a generation ago that was the common case.

There are core symptoms that doctors look for in diagnosing autism. The degree of severity varies between individuals but all share some of the core symptoms. There are different areas that the core symptoms are broken into: social interactions and relationships, verbal and nonverbal communication, and limited interests in activities or play.

Social interactions and relationship symptoms may include: difficulty with nonverbal interactions like eye contact, facial expressions, and body language, inability to make friends with peers, no interest in sharing enjoyment with other people, lack of empathy, and preferring to be alone. Expressing emotions such as laughing or crying without apparent reason is also common in autism.

Verbal and nonverbal communication symptoms may include a delay in or lack of speech (some people with autism never speak at all). Those who do speak have problems starting a conversation and continuing one after it has begun. Repetitive phrases are sometimes common with autism. This is called echolalia. Difficulty understanding sarcasm and humor is common because they interpret communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.

Limited interests in activities or play include symptoms of an unusual focus on certain objects (they may become fixated on a specific part of a toy instead of with the entire toy), becoming fascinated by video games or collections, and a need for sameness and routines. Change in routine can throw a person with autism off kilter. Rocking one’s body and flapping of the hands are some of the stereotypical behaviors found in autistic persons and falls into this category.

Other signs and symptoms of autism include lacking imaginative play, sustained odd play, ritualistic behaviors, and narrow, restricted interests such as numbers or movie credits. Having aggressive or self-injurious behavior, extreme under or over-activity, short attention span, or throwing temper tantrums could be signs of autism also.

About ten percent of autistic persons have special gifts such as a musical or artistic ability, calculating dates on a calendar, or memorizing lists. We call these “autistic savants”. Many have unusual sensory perceptions such as feeling pain with just a light touch. Others may feel no pain at all. Strong likes and dislikes are usually found when it comes to food, and sleep problems tend to occur in forty to seventy percent of people who have autism.

As an autistic child develops into a teenager, their behavior can change. Many begin to gain skills although relating to and understanding other people still lag behind. Because of puberty and sexual changes in the body, autistic teens are at a higher risk for developing depression, anxiety, and even epilepsy.

Adults with autism can become independent enough to live on their own and even work in some cases. Although, in some cases, adults with autism need a considerable amount of assistance, especially those who are unable to speak or who have low intelligence.

Last updated on May 31st, 2010 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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