Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects individuals in unique ways, making each person’s development journey distinct. Recognizing the early signs of autism can pave the way for early intervention and support. In this blog, we will explore what autism is, its potential causes, the main symptoms, and different types of autism, and shed light on the significance of understanding autism in any child.
What is Autism or ASD?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex neurodevelopmental situation characterized by different challenges like social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. It is often referred to as a “spectrum” because the symptoms and their severity can vary widely among individuals. It mainly appears in early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development, such as talking, playing, and interacting with others.
Causes of Autism or ASD?
The exact cause of autism is still a mystery, and researchers are continuously exploring various factors that may contribute to its development. Genetics, environmental influences, and neurological factors are some of the factors known for autism. However, it’s essential to note that no single factor has been identified as the sole cause of autism. Some of the common causes are:
- If parents or cousins are autistic, then it can lead to autism in a child as well.
- Around ¼ of children with autism have genetic disorders like Down syndrome.
- Women prescribed pain-relieving medicines just before pregnancy are likelier to have a child with ASD.
The Main Early Signs of Autism
1. Social Challenges
Autistic children often struggle with social interactions. They may find it difficult to make and maintain eye contact and engage in reciprocal conversations. Early signs of autism, like social challenges, help to identify autism. For example, your child might not look directly at you but at a toy in a mall to show their interest.
2. Communication Difficulties
Autism can delay the speech and language development of a child. For example, if your child’s age is more than 12 months and they struggle to speak or communicate, or if your child’s age is more than 24 months, they have a rich vocabulary but struggle with social communication.
3. Repetitive Behaviors
Repetitive actions, movements, or routines are common in children with autism. For example, a child may flap their hands when they get excited or have rigid adherence to specific rituals.
4. Difficulty with Change
Individuals with autism may resist changes in their routines or environments. For example, a child may be uncomfortable and resist a slight alteration in their surroundings.
5. Limited Interests
Autistic individuals develop intense interests in specific objects, things, topics, or activities. These interests may dominate their thoughts and conversations. For example, a child who is addicted to a phone and watches during eating, free time, etc.
6. Sensory Sensitivities
Sensory processing issues are common in autism. Individuals may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to sensory stimuli, such as light, sound, touch, taste, or smell. Early signs of autism, like sensory, help to identify autism to a very large extent. For example, a child likes high-volume songs, smells uncommon things, watches the screen at full brightness, etc.
(Also Read. How to choose Occupational therapy for Autism)
Types of Autism
Autism has various conditions and situations that are collectively termed Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Early signs of autism help in finding types of autism. Some of the types are:
- Autistic Disorder (Classic Autism): This is the most well-known type, characterized by speech and language delays, repetitive behaviors, and social and communication challenges.
- Asperger’s Syndrome: Individuals with this usually have average to above-average intelligence but may struggle with social interactions and exhibit repetitive behaviors. As per reports, Isaac Newton, Henry Cavendish, and Albert Einstein were autistic with Asperger’s syndrome.
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS): This category includes individuals who exhibit some but not all symptoms of autistic disorder. It is often used in cases where the symptoms are mild, which is also termed mild autism.
Is Autism Genetic?
Autism is believed to be a genetic disorder that passes through generations. Research Individuals with a family history of autism are at a higher risk. However, it’s essential to understand that nothing is the sole determinant, not genetics, environmental factors, or any medical factors that can also cause autism.
Identifying early signs of autism can lead to early intervention toward providing timely support. While the causes of autism are still complex and multifaceted, understanding the common symptoms and types of autism can pave the way to improving awareness and acceptance. If you will not accept it, you can’t cure it. Promoting inclusive environments is a key element in fostering a society that recognizes and supports individuals with autism on their journeys. If you are looking for an assessment and evaluation of your child, then you can contact THERAKids Noida, the best child development center in Noida. They provide multiple services, like Occupational Therapy, special education, speech therapy, and behavior modification therapy.