What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Previously Called Autism And Pervasive Developmental Disorders
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the following:
- Difficulties in social communication differences, including verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Deficits in social interactions.
- Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities and sensory problems
Many of those with ASD can have delayed or absence of language development, intellectual disabilities, poor motor coordination and attention weaknesses.
Addressing Factors That Influence Lifespan
While people with autism tend to have shorter lifespans on average than neurotypical individuals, this doesnt mean that you will. Talk to your doctors and other treatment providers about how to assess your lifestyle and make any changes that can boost your overall health and decrease the likelihood of an earlier death.
Remember that autism itself does not cause a shortened lifespan. You can take steps to minimize your risk.
Signs Of Autism In Young Children
Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are usually clear by two or three years old. The range of behaviors and skills covered here may become apparent between two years old and five years old.
Some signs that a child has autism spectrum disorder may include:
- Not expressing emotion or only a limited range of emotions
- Difficulty interpreting different emotions in others
- Not seeming attached to parents
- Lacking interest in playing social games or the company of other children
- Interest in playing with one particular toy or object
- Echolalia, repeating other peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s words or phrases
- Repeating own words over and over
- Using formal language and expressions, rather than the slang of their peers
- Not developing language skills at all
- Difficulty toilet training
- Challenging behaviour, such as banging head on wall or picking at skin
- Engages in behavior such as flapping hands, rocking or twirling
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty interpreting what other people are thinking and feeling, and often miss social cues. A child with autism may not be able to tell the difference between an adult who says Ã¢â¬Åcome hereÃ¢â¬ï¿½ while happy and smiling, and an adult who says Ã¢â¬Åcome hereÃ¢â¬ï¿½ while angry and frowning. This can be confusing and creates the impression the child is not connecting with people.
Read Also: Is Stuttering A Sign Of Autism
How Common Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Based on most recent CDC report, ASD is estimated to affect about 1 in 54 children, with boys being more likely to have ASD than girls. There were more than 5 million adults in the US, or 2.21% of the population, with ASD as of 2017. Government statistics suggest that the prevalence of ASD has risen 10% to 17% in recent years.
You Become Very Fixated On One Thing
People with autism often become fixated on one thing, and in that moment, nothing else mattersit’s the most important thing in their life. “It could be how the towels are foldedone of my big onesor how the pencils are aligned, or putting all the little cars in a row, or only eating the vowels out of the Alphabits cereal,” says Swain.
Recommended Reading: Death Note Autism
Common Signs Of Autism
Some of the more common signs that may indicate a person has autism include:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Delayed speech and communication skills
- Reliance on rules and routines
- Being upset by relatively minor changes
- Unexpected reactions to sounds, tastes, sights, touch and smells
- Difficulty understanding other peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s emotions
- Focusing on or becoming obsessed by a narrow range of interests or objects
- Engaging in repetitive behavior such as flapping hands or rocking
- Children not responding to their name by 12 months
- Children not pointing at distant objects by 14 months
Worried you or someone you know might have some of the signs of autism? The Ada app can help you check symptoms. or find out more about how it works.
Common Characteristics Of Aspergers
People suffering from Aspergers syndrome show unique behavioural patterns, however, some common characteristics include:
- Above-average intelligence they are often seen exhibiting a keen interest in a particular subject. For example, having a thorough knowledge of the planetary movements and being the master on that subject.
- Maintaining strict routines/ rituals and facing a challenge with change or transitions
- Due to their lack of social skills, people with Aspergers may only make few friends and are often considered introverts/loners.
- People may find education difficult, due to classrooms being busy and overstimulating, teachers being unable to provide additional support, difficulty with learning new things and writing
- Sensory intolerance- too much noise, visual input or social pressure can cause a person to become overwhelmed
- Feeling lonely, anxious or isolated
- Not understanding concepts such as turn taking and sharing
- Showing a lack of empathy for how other people feel
- Preferring routine and becoming upset when routine is disrupted
- Having little imagination
- Delayed development of motor skills e.g. finding it hard to use cutlery
- Poor handwriting
- Understanding and being able to communicate, but misunderstanding elements of language such as changes in a persons tone of voice
- Having very specific interests that other people may see as excessive or obsessive
Recommended Reading: Minimally Verbal Autism
Signs Of Autism In Older Children And Teens
Although autism spectrum disorder can reliably be diagnosed from the age of two or three years old, many children do not receive a diagnosis until they are older. Milder symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder who are higher functioning may not be recognized until they are in school.
Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that children will have different experiences of day-to-day living. Children who are more than five years old and on into their teenage years, who have mild symptoms and are towards the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum, may:
- Develop a narrow range of interests or obsessions with certain topics
- Engage in repetitive behavior such as hand flapping, twirling or snapping a rubber band
- Not make eye contact
- Use formal language rather than the slang of their peers
- Place great importance on routines and rules
- Develop strong preferences for certain foods, clothes or objects
Children who have more severe symptoms and are towards the lower functioning range of the autism spectrum may:
- Not use speech at all
- Become extremely distressed at changes to routine
- Exhibit challenging behavior, such as being aggressive or banging head on wall
- Need assistance with everyday living, such as bathing and dressing
- Engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rocking
- Insist on rules and routine
- Develop rigid preferences for certain foods, clothes or objects
- Need specialized diets
Are Siblings At Greater Risk For Autism Spectrum Disorder
The truth is that genetics do play a role in autism. When one child is diagnosed with ASD, the next child to come along has about a 20% greater risk of developing autism than normal. When the first two children in a family have both been diagnosed with ASD, the third child has about a 32% greater risk of developing ASD.
Recommended Reading: How To Tell If My Child Is Autistic
Readjusting Your Idea Of Normal
No matter how severe your childâs disability, no matter how well they respond to therapies and interventions, raising a child on the spectrum requires adjusting your expectations and ideas of what a normal life means. These children develop at their own pace, in their own ways. This does not mean they are incapable of independent living, finding rewarding careers, falling in love, having children or otherwise leading normal lives. They will become as ânormalâ as their disabilities and ongoing support system allows.
A PDD diagnosis, at least during childhood, simply means these children will not follow the same developmental milestones as neuro-typical children. Instead of learning to ride a bike at the age of 5 or 6, it might take them until they are 9, 10, 12, even 14 before they have the advanced motor skills necessary to maintain their balance. Instead of graduating high school and leaving home at 18, these children may not be ready for independent living or post secondary education until they are in their early 20s. Likewise, some children will never be ready for such skills or challenges, while others will âcatch upâ to their peers in time to pursue college with the rest of their class.
Different Degrees Of Independence
First, its important to understand that a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder does not mean that your child or family member will not be able to date, make friends, attend college, get married, become a parent, or have a satisfying career. People with ASD do these things and more every day.
What an ASD diagnosis does mean is that your child or family member will progress differently than people without ASD.
At Therapeutic Pathways, our team of therapists and behavior technicians work to help those diagnosed with ASD reach their full potential. This means reaching different stages of independence over time.
Again, its not possible to provide a concrete answer of how long it will take your child or family member to develop certain independent living skills. Our staff meets each client where they are and works closely with them to develop skills to keep your child safe and happy.
Some of the autism independent living skills that we encourage and develop at Therapeutic Pathways include:
You May Like: Is The Good Doctor Really Autistic
Preparing For The Future
Temple Grandin: As a person with autism I want to emphasize the importance of developing the childs talents. Skills are often uneven in autism, and a child may be good at one thing and poor at another. I had talent in drawing, and this talent later developed into a career in designing cattle-handling systems for major beef companies. Too often there is too much emphasis on deficits and not enough emphasis on talents. Abilities in children with autism will vary greatly, and many individuals will function at a lower level than me. However, developing talents and improving skills will benefit all. If a child becomes fixated on trains, then use the great motivation of that fixation to motivate learning other skills. For example, use a book about trains to teach reading, use calculating the speed of a train to teach math, and encourage an interest in history by studying the history of the railroads.
People With Milder Forms Of Autism Struggle As Adults
Deborah RudacilleBlurred boundaries:
Contrary to popular assumption, people diagnosed with so-called mild forms of autism dont fare any better in life than those with severe forms of the disorder. Thats the conclusion of a new study that suggests that even individuals with normal intelligence and language abilities struggle to fit into society because of their social and communication problems.
In fact, people diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified are no more likely to marry or have a job than those with more disabling forms of autism, according to a Norwegian study published online in June in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders1.
Early intervention has the potential to alter this trajectory, say experts. But until todays children with autism reach maturity, it will be hard to say how much behavioral intervention at a young age can alter the course of their lives.
The implication of our findings is that the consequences of having an autism spectrum disorder with profound difficulties in communication skills and social impairment cant be compensated for by either high intellectual level or normal language function, says lead investigator Anne Myhre, associate professor of mental health and addiction at the University of Oslo in Norway.
You May Like: Autism Doctor Series
Dietary Planning For Aspergers
People with Asperger syndrome sometimes have difficulty with eating and may only like a small range of foods.
Poor diet can lead to health problems in the future and may make some symptoms and behaviours worse.
Some people report that eliminating certain foods such as gluten or sugar from the diet of someone with the condition, or adding supplements for Asperger syndrome has improved their behaviours or helped them feel better, but there is little evidence to support these claims.
Signs Of Autism Meltdown
For some people with autism, sensory overload can become overwhelming. In these situations a person may have a meltdown. A change in routine can also precipitate a meltdown.
A meltdown is not a temper tantrum and can be experienced by someone with autism of any age. A meltdown should be managed by calming the person and addressing the cause of the distress.
Signs that a meltdown may be developing, sometimes known as the rumbling stage, include:
- Nail biting
- Chronic gastritis
- Chronic duodenitis
Many people with autism spectrum disorder also have food intolerances and may find that a diet which excludes gluten or casein helps.
Read Also: Asd Adhd Comorbidity
How Adhd Affects Relationships
One common theme with those who have ADHD is the difficulty between havingADHD and relationships. ADHD makes it difficult to focus on what other people are saying and follow through with commitments or things you have said. The forgetfulness that ADHD creates can make it more stressful, as promises are less likely to be kept and simple things like appointments or phone messages may be frequently missed. These little mistakes create more frequent stress in relationships and lead to increased tension.
ADHD also makes it more difficult to think thoroughly about what you are going to say or how what you say could be perceived. This results in those with ADHD being more likely to say something offensive that they didnt mean and being less inhibited in how they say it. It is important to remember that ADHD can affect adult relationships and that this is often as frustrating for the person with ADHD as it is for the other person.
Can Someone With Aspergers Lead A Normal Life
The first question that comes to mind is what is a normal life?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary normal is conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.
Are any of our lives normal? Do we all fit in the norm? maybe not.
People suffering from Asperger syndrome may have their own version of what is normal for them.
This blog post provides an insight into the lives of people suffering from Asperger Syndrome while highlighting the characteristics, demystifying the misconceptions and providing ways to cope with Aspergers to lead a normal life.
Also Check: Does Autism Shorten Lifespan
Employment For People With Aspergers
One of the important aspects of living an adult life is the ability to hold a steady job and pay rent and bills.
For people suffering from Aspergers there is an added challenge caused by their difficulty understanding social interactions.
This means that the best jobs for a young adult with Aspergers Syndrome are those that are highly structured, do not involve deadlines, but does require attention to detail.
Aspies need to focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses.
What Is The Outlook For People With Autism Spectrum Disorder
In many cases, the symptoms of ASD become less pronounced as a child gets older. Parents of children with ASD may need to be flexible and ready to adjust treatment as needed for their child.
People with ASD may go on to live typical lives, but there is often need for continued services and support as they age. The needs depend on the severity of the symptoms. For most, it’s a lifelong condition that may require ongoing supports.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Through research, there has been much that has been learned about autism spectrum disorder over the past 20 years. There is ongoing active research on the causes of ASD, early detection and diagnosis, prevention and treatments.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/29/2020.
Also Check: Dyslexia And Autism Link
Medical Testing And Treatments
Routine medical tests are usually performed by traditional pediatricians, but these exams rarely reveal underlying medical problems that are often associated with autism, such as gastrointestinal problems, nutritional and metabolic deficiencies, toxic metal burden, and immune dysfunction. Unfortunately, many physicians believe, though incorrectly, that the only useful medical treatments are psychiatric medications to reduce seizures and behavioral problems.
Genetic testing for Fragile X syndrome can help identify one possible cause, and this testing is typically recommended when there is IDD in the family history.
The Autism Research Institute supports an integrative medical approach to treating individuals on the autism spectrum. This approaches often includes:
- Thorough medical evaluation for undetected underlying disease
- Nutritional support
What To Do Next
- Attend one or more parent support groups, or join a parent email listserve: Parents can be a wonderful source of support and information.
- If you dont already have one, get a proper diagnosis you will need it to secure appropriate services. Some practitioners will give you a softer diagnosis in order to spare your feelingsthis is not actually a kindness, because it will impede your ability to get the services your child needs and is entitled to.
- Contact your states Developmental Disabilities program and apply for services. Be persistent.
- Contact your local school district and ask about school programs. See what they have to offer.
- Find a local physician who offers an integrated medical approach to autism. Some physicians will be open to medical and nutritional testing and medical and nutritional treatments, but others will not find one who is willing to help your child, as opposed to just monitoring the severity of your childs problems. Do not take your child to a physician who does not support you or respect your viewpoint.
- Attend the Autism Research Institutes free online webinars and continuing education events.
- Make sure you still find some time for your other children and spouse/significant other. Having a child with autism can result in many challenges, and you need to be prepared for the long term.
- Continue trying to learn all you can. Good luck!
You May Like: Is Shaun From The Good Doctor Autistic In Real Life