How The Development Of Autism Works
If it is not possible for a teenager or an adult to develop autism, how does autism actually develop? A 2014 report in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that brain changes that take place long before birth might be what causes the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.
Looking at the brains of children with autism and those without, scientists discovered abnormalities in the brain regions that control language, social, and emotional control in 90% of the children with autism. And the abnormalities themselves were formed as the result of a process occurring long before birth.;
In terms of timing, these changes occur in the cortex around the second trimester of pregnancy. Speaking to NPR, one of the authors of the study explained that something must have gone wrong at or before the second trimester.;
Commenting on the study, the director of the National Autistic Society Centre for Autism in the United Kingdom stressed the importance of early detection. This is primarily because the earlier the intervention, the easier it will be for patients, parents, and therapists to compensate for the problematic developments in the brain.
Secondarily, it is for fear that undetected cases of autism will lead to more misconceptions that the disability develops as some people age. This misconception will affect how these people are treated.;
Slow Onset May Explain Late Autism Diagnosis In Some Children
by Hannah Furfaro;/;3 December 2018
Some autistic children dont show traits of the condition until age 5 or later, new research suggests1. Others show a few mild features at age 3 but only later meet the criteria for diagnosis.
The findings suggest that autism traits are not always apparent by 24 months, the typical age for screening. As a result, efforts to bring down the average age of diagnosis, now at 4 years, can only go so far.
There are some children who do get evaluated, sometimes multiple times, only to get diagnosed later, says lead researcher Sally Ozonoff, endowed professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, Davis. This research is explanatory for those children.
The results are based on following baby sibs, or younger siblings of children with autism, who are at increased risk for the condition. But they should remind clinicians not to rule out autism in older children, even among the general population, experts say.
We tend to think if didnt happen early on, its not there and this is saying thats not true, says Catherine Lord, distinguished professor in residence of psychiatry and education at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the research. Its saying that we do need to continue to be vigilant and aware.
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.
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Study Found Gender Differences In Autism Severity Changes
- University of California – Davis Health
- A new study found that around 30 percent of young children with autism have less severe autism symptoms at age 6 than they did at age 3, with some children losing their autism diagnoses entirely. It also found that girls tend to show greater reduction and less rise in their autism symptom severity than boys with autism. Children with higher IQs were more likely to show a reduction in their symptoms.
During early childhood, girls with autism tend to show greater reduction and less rise in their autism symptom severity than boys with autism, a UC Davis MIND Institute study has found.
Early childhood is a period of substantial brain growth with critical ability for learning and development. It also is the typical time for an initial diagnosis of autism and the best time for early intervention. In the U.S., about 1 in 54 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder , with four times as many boys with ASD as girls.
Previous studies indicated inconsistent results in terms of changes in autism severity during childhood. The general sense was that the severity of autism at diagnosis would last a lifetime.
Change in severity of autism symptoms and optimal outcome
“It is also true that some children appear to get worse,” Amaral said. “Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to predict who will do well and who will develop more severe autism symptoms and need different interventions.”
Options Include Day Programs
Meanwhile, some parents of young children are already researching options. Chew has put Charlie on a waiting list for state housing but is thinking the ideal immediate plan will involve a part-time job with a good day program.
She writes that her new hobby/obsession is finding something comparable to the county school for autistic children, which he loves and where he learns daily living and vocational skills. But this appears to be difficult if not impossible, she says. I know the day that yellow bus does not pull up in front of our house will be a tough one.
Chew is well aware that funding shortages make her idea of extending special-needs services to 25 a pipe dream. But she also knows that the dearth of options leads many parents to keep these young people at home, often idle and lacking the structure, routine and calm those with ASD need to do their best.
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.
How Is Autism In Adults Treated
Adults arent generally given the same treatments as children with ASD. Sometimes adults with ASD may be treated with cognitive, verbal, and applied behavioral therapy. More often, youll need to seek out specific treatments based on the challenges youre experiencing .
Some possibilities include:
- seeing a psychiatrist experienced in autism treatment for medical evaluation
- consulting a social worker or psychologist for group and individual therapy
- getting counseling on an ongoing basis
- getting vocational rehabilitation
- taking prescription medication for symptoms like anxiety, depression, and behavioral issues that may occur alongside ASD
Many adults with autism have found support through online groups and forums, as well as by connecting in person with other adults on the autism spectrum.
What An Autism Diagnosis Means For Older Children And Teenagers
You might wonder whether getting and having an autism diagnosis in later childhood or adolescence will make a difference to your child.
The diagnosis itself wont change your child, or the way that you think or feel about your child. But it might help you and your child understand your childs strengths and difficulties.
A diagnosis describes your childs strengths, abilities, difficulties and needs. And it can help to guide therapies and support for your child and help with getting services and funding to support your childs development for example, extra help at school.
Does Autism Get Better Or Worse During Adulthood And Beyond
Autism as a condition is still rather fresh-faced when it comes to the pantheon of medical diagnosis. This is because, while understanding of autism has been explored since the 1940s, it wasnt until the late 70s/80s when rates really took off. This means that, while we can expect our understanding of autism and ageing to pick up , right now, this understanding is more a work in progress.
Nevertheless, what we have come to understand from autistic people who received a diagnosis in the later stages of life, is that adulthood can be an exceptionally liberating/challenging time for people on the spectrum; as many of us will finally achieve a better sense of identity, only to age out of many of the support services which helped us receive this realisation.
Of course, while there is evidence to suggest that older autistic people are less likely to adapt , this is not always the case as, autistic or not, people become more steadfast and stubborn as they age as can be seen from the countless hours I have wasted teaching relatives over 60 to operate an iPhone!
Furthermore, anecdotal accounts from children of autistic people have found that, in later stages of autistic life, coping strategies which have taken a lifetime to perfect can tragically become the first victim to conditions such as:
- Huntingtons Disease
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Getting The Proper Treatment
The first step in helping your child get the proper treatment is getting a correct diagnosis. You may need to seek out a child behavior disorder specialist.
A lot of pediatricians and general practitioners dont have the specialized training to understand the combination of symptoms. Pediatricians and general practitioners may also miss another underlying condition that complicates treatment plans.
Managing the symptoms of ADHD can help your child manage the symptoms of ASD, too. The behavioral techniques your child will learn may help lessen the symptoms of ASD. Thats why getting the proper diagnosis and adequate treatment is so vital.
Behavioral therapy is a possible treatment for ADHD, and recommended as the first line of treatment for children under the age of 6. For children over the age of 6, behavioral therapy is recommended with medication.
Some medications commonly used to treat ADHD include:
- mixed amphetamine salts
Can You Be A Little Autistic
No, there is no such thing as being a little autistic. Many people may show some characteristics of autism from time to time. This may include avoiding bright lights and noises, preferring to be alone and being rigid about rules. This does not make them autistic.
However, a person can be mildly autistic. Mildly autistic people are unable to understand the body language or emotions of the people around them. However, they have normal intelligence and can carry their day-to-day activities.
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What Parents Should Do
If you think your child has developmental delays and may be autistic, take action. Ask your pediatrician to screen your child for delays, with a special emphasis on social, communication, and emotional skills.
If your intuition was incorrect, you’ve lost nothing but an hour of time and a load of anxiety. If your child does, indeed, have developmental delays you’ve taken action promptly and can expect to quickly access resources and programs that can help him or her to overcome any challenges.
Bottom line, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking prompt action!
When Missing Developmental Milestones May Suggest Autism
There are many reasons why children miss developmental milestones. In most cases, there’s no particular cause for concern. That’s because:
- Children are different from one another;and, naturally, develop at different rates.
- Children who are born prematurely may miss milestones but usually catch up.
- Boys are often slower to develop than girls, but almost always catch up.
- Many children are so focused on certain milestones that they may miss others. For example, a very physically adept child may reach advanced physical milestones and then later catch up on social milestones.
- Early medical challenges may slow developmentbut most children are able to catch up to their same-age peers.
- Certain correctable challenges, such as difficulty with hearing, can slow early development but have little impact on long-term development.
So when should parents be concerned about autism? CDC provides a shortlist of issues that should raise red flags.
- Cant work simple toys
- Doesnt speak in sentences
- Doesnt understand simple instructions
- Doesnt make eye contact
- Loses skills he once had
While these issues can be signs of autism, however, they may not be. Autism is more likely when children have more than one of these issues;or have other related issues in the social/emotional or communication realms.
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Restricted Or Repetitive Behaviors Or Interests
People with ASD have behaviors or interests that can seem unusual. These behaviors or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by only problems with social communication and interaction.
Examples of restricted or repetitive interests and behaviors related to ASD can include:
- Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
- Repeats words or phrases over and over
- Plays with toys the same way every time
- Is focused on parts of objects
- Gets upset by minor changes
- Has obsessive interests
- Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
- Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
Is There A Test For Asd In Adults
Clinicians have developed different tests that can help diagnose ASD in adults. These include diagnostic tests such as ADOS 2 Module 4, ADI-R, and 3Di Adult.
However, it is not clear how reliable these tests are for adults. The reasons for this include:
- Researchers who look at the reliability of ASD tests often use a small number of study participants.
- Not many research studies on testing for adult ASD include enough participants from historically underserved groups, such as People of Color or people who are LGBTQIA+. This means the results of studies looking at ASD testing methods may not represent a true population of autistic adults.
- Many clinicians may not be familiar with the signs of ASD in adulthood. This is especially true if the patientâs symptoms are not severe or if the patient also has other conditions, for example, anxiety.
Autistic people may have of co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety or depression, than those in the general population.
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Talking With Other People About Your Childs Autism Diagnosis
Talking about your childs autism diagnosis with other people might feel strange or hard at first. You might wonder who to tell and what to say. These decisions are up to you and your child but getting things out in the open can really help you and your child. It can also help others to better understand your child.
Families Struggle To Find Or Invent Good Supported Living Options
When Susan Senators son Max was racing toward the high school finish line, he joined the rest of his classmates for the usual rites of passage. He took the ACT and applied to good schools, landing at New York Universitys prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.
But things couldnt have been more different for Maxs brother, Nat. Senator, a blogger, memoir writer and novelist, had to take into account the fact that her profoundly autistic older son, while very competent when it comes to self-help skills like showering and dressing, is also limited verbally, cannot handle money and still doesnt look both ways when crossing the street.
In other words, she knew he needed a 24-hour caregiver to be safe. But because the infrastructure and services arent in place to create the type of living arrangement she wanted for Nat after he came of age, she joined the growing ranks of parents who are struggling to make short- and long-term provisions, often taking matters into their own hands.
The Real Reasons Autism Rates Are Up In The Us
A hard look at whether the rise comes from more awareness, better diagnosisor something else;
The;prevalence;of autism in the United States has risen steadily since researchers first began tracking it in 2000. The rise in the rate has sparked fears of an autism epidemic. But experts say the bulk of the increase stems from a growing awareness of autism and changes to the conditions diagnostic criteria.
Heres how researchers track autisms prevalence and explain its apparent rise.
How do clinicians diagnose autism?There is no blood test, brain scan or any other objective test that can diagnose autismalthough researchers are actively trying to develop such tests. Clinicians rely on observations of a persons behavior to diagnose the condition.
In the U.S., the criteria for diagnosing autism are laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . The criteria are problems with social communication and interactions, and restricted interests or;repetitive behaviors. Both of these core features must be present in early development.
What;is the prevalence of;autism in the U.S.?The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that;1 in 68children in the U.S. have autism. The prevalence is 1 in 42 for boys and 1 in 189 for girls. These rates yield a gender ratio of about five boys for every girl.
Why Is Autism Increasing Dramatically
Let us start by reiterating some facts about autism.
- Multiple large-scale studies have established, with adequate proof, that vaccines do not cause autism.
- Autism does not develop due to bad parenting choices.
- Autistic spectrum disorders are not contagious.
Although the number of children diagnosed with autism has steadily increased over the last few years, this is not because more children develop autism now than before.
Experts cite the following reasons to explain the rise in autism cases in recent years.
ASD includes a broad spectrum of disorders with following symptoms, thus accommodating more kids under the title of autism.
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