When Is Autism Developed
So, now that we are aware that autism is developed after birth, but that still begs the question of when exactly it is developed. Autism Speaks explains “autism has its roots in early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 12 and 18 months of age. Some infants and toddlers begin develop normally until the second year of life, when they lose skills and develop autism – a pattern called ‘regression.'”
An expert from Autism Speaks goes on to say, “at present, autism can’t be reliably diagnosed until around 2 years of age. However, parents often notice symptoms before then. In fact, analysis of videotapes from children’s first-birthday parties shows that signs of autism are already present for many children at that age, even when parents don’t become concerned until months or years later.”
He further explains, “in most medical conditions, the underlying processes are triggered before the signs and symptoms become obvious. Consider arthritis. The joints are breaking down and inflammation is setting in years before the aches and pains appear. In dyslexia , the symptoms aren’t obvious until a child starts learning how to read. But the symptoms are rooted in brain differences that are present much earlier in development. A similar chain of events occurs in autism.”
Why the earlier diagnoses? And what could this reveal about diagnosis itself? Read on to learn more.
Reduced Emotion In Facial Expressions
Facial expressions are a nonverbal way to communicate thoughts and feelings.
Research on emotional expression in autistic infants is limited, but in studies involving school-age children, researchers have found that autistic children display less emotion through facial expressions than children with nonautistic development.
That doesnt necessarily mean autistic children are feeling less emotion, just that less of it shows on their faces when they do.
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.
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Boys Are More Likely To Have Autism Than Girls
There is one other important finding about autism: It seems to affect boys about four times more than girls.
Researchers have found it takes fewer genetic mutations for boys to get autism than girls, and they call this the female protective effect. It basically means that somehow girls with several autism-related genetic mutations would be able to adapt to that genetic hit with no identifiable autism-like behaviors whereas many boys cant.
The research community doesnt fully understand how this works. But scientists are trying to because it might help them identify biological treatments for autism.
Theres also some research that suggests autism may be harder to spot in girls, so women with it may be under-diagnosed. Autism researchers are working to unpack those subtle gender differences. Again, though, this isnt a cause of the disease just an association with the female sex.
The dearth of iron-clad autism triggers may be why people are vulnerable to the autism-vaccine hypothesis. Its a much clearer explanation than suggesting its the result of some murky genetic-environmental interplay.
For now, vaccines are the wrong explanation for autism, and we should let the idea go. Autism researchers have. The more we hold onto it, the more outbreaks well see like the measles epidemic in Minnesota, where autism fears gripped a community and pushed them away from a life-saving vaccine.
Autism And Brain Injury Can Look Similar
Autism is a neurological disorder, which means it affects functioning in the brain. A person with ASD may have normal or above normal functioning is some areas and significant challenges in others. This is similar to brain injury, which sometimes affects parts of the brain while leaving other parts untouched. ASD is a developmental disability, which means it affects an individual during key areas of development. Brain injury can happen at any time in life.
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Nancy Wiseman had a feeling early on that something wasn’t quite right with her daughter. When Sarah was 6 months old, she stopped babbling, and by 10 months, she was silent. By 18 months, the increasingly aloof toddler no longer responded to her name, and she resisted being held, kissed, or touched. “I felt that I was losing my child a little more each day,” says Wiseman, of Merrimac, Massachusetts. When Sarah wasn’t saying any words or even making sounds that resembled words by 20 months, her grandmother, a school psychologist, suspected that the girl might actually be deaf. Instead, Wiseman was devastated to learn that her daughter had autism. “The diagnosis really knocked the wind out of me,” she recalls, “but I was relieved to finally know what was wrong.”
There are many unanswered questions,” says Alice Kau, Ph.D., an autism expert at the National Institutes of Health, which funded more than $74 million in autism research in 2002, as compared with only $22 million in 1997. Still, researchers are beginning to make progress in unraveling this baffling disorder, and the number of resources available for families is increasing. Here, six facts about autism that every parent should know.
Delayed Language Or Speech
Research shows that young autistic children often say and understand fewer words than children with nonautistic development at 12 months. If a child isnt saying single words by 16 months or isnt using two-word phrases by age 2, its a good idea to talk with a pediatrician.
The National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders says language development could be uneven, with exceptional language development in some areas and impairment in other areas.
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What Is Joint Attention
Problems with joint attention are one of the most early and common signs of ASD. Joint attention is when your child looks back and forth between an object and a person. When a child does this to share interest and interact with another person, he develops skills that help him connect with other people. Most children with ASD have delays in joint attention skills, or they dont have any joint attention skills.
These are examples of how children with ASD may show different joint attention skills:
Birth Complications And Autism
Another possible link between brain injury and ASD involves birth complications, especially oxygen deprivation or cerebral hypoxia. This is different from traumatic brain injury, which usually happens as the result of an accident or specific injury. Cerebral hypoxia can begin only five minutes after the loss of oxygen and can result in significant brain injury.
A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Perinatology found birth complications, including oxygen deprivation, were linked to a higher risk of a later ASD diagnosis. However, the study established a correlation and did not propose autism was caused by birth complications.
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White Matter Brain Connectivity
On the basis of diffusion tensor imaging tractography, HR-ASD infants have been reported to have abnormalities in white matter organizational structure as early as 6 months of age in multiple fiber tracts across the brain., Aberrant WM integrity has been observed by 6 months in the genu of the corpus callosum, and WM integrity in the genu and cerebellar peduncles is significantly associated with abnormal sensory responsiveness at 24 months, a clinical domain particularly affected in individuals with ASD. These reports of reduced WM organization in HR-AD infants are consistent with studies of toddlers with ASD.,
Maintaining A Nutritious Diet
Pregnant women can lower the risk for autism by eating a colorful, organic diet rich in green vegetables and fruits containing antioxidants. At least 80 grams of protein per day from lean sources like turkey, chicken, and nuts is recommended. Many health experts support reducing white foods, including bread and sugar. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest soon-to-be mothers take 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid. Increasing intake of Vitamin D has been linked to better neurological development in fetuses. Pregnant women should also drink eight glasses of filtered water, limit mercury levels from fish, and increase omega-3s. A modest weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy is optimal.
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Early Treatment Is Crucial
There is no known cure for autism, but intensive therapy helps a child learn a wide range of skills from making eye contact to hugging to having a conversation. And the sooner a child begins, the better. A panel of experts convened by the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 recommended that children should have 25 hours of therapy per week as soon as autism is suspected. Because children with autism have very different behaviors and abilities, the most effective approach takes into account a child’s unique challenges and encourages healthy development through play, rather than just trying to change specific symptoms. “Intervention can take many forms, from going to a regular preschool to a parent’s working with her child over the course of a normal day to direct therapies from well-trained teachers and professionals all depending on the child,” Dr. Lord says.
Going Through Childbirth When You Have Autism
- For some autistic women, a late diagnosis comes after their childs, but I received mine five months before I became pregnant. Source: E+
For some autistic women, a late diagnosis comes after their childs, but I received mine five months before I became pregnant. In motherhood, the Internet has all the answers. You want to know how to tell Braxton Hicks from real contractions, or what labour is going to feel like, really? There are forums, blog posts, and studies for that.
When you type autism and childbirth into a search engine though, there isnt a lot about how one relates to the other. You are more likely to find studies about whether birth trauma causes autism, or about how soon after birth you can spot the signs your child might be autistic. Autistic mothers dont exist, not really. The term autism mum isnt even for us. It is a term used by mothers of autistic children, usually as an identity tied to the hardship of parenting someone like me.
The first obstacle is that in the eyes of many, the existence of one negates the other. How could I really be autistic when I have a job, a Twitter profile, a partner, and then a baby on the way? To me that sounds like, how could I be hungry when I also have a bike? The figures say one in 150 Australians are autistic, so you have to think some of us are going to be parents.
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Should You Space Out Your Pregnancies
A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that pregnancies spaced between 2 and 5 years apart have the lowest risk of a child developing autism. Researchers found that those children conceived after less than 12 months were 50 percent more likely to end up with a diagnosis as compared with children conceived between that 2-and-5-year time frame, though it’s unclear why.
Meanwhile, those conceived after more than 60 months were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed. However, keep in mind that autism risk increases with both parents’ ages at conception and that a woman’s fertility declines as she gets older. When it comes to timing, work with your doctor to determine the best plan for you and your family.
Early Diagnosis And Treatment Of Hereditary And Celiac Diseases
The hereditary diseases like phenylketonuria is caused by the deficiency of a liver enzyme and are required to digest phenylalanine. The early diagnosis and treatment of phenylketonuria can reduce the chances of having an Autistic child after pregnancy. Similarly, the celiac diseases diagnosis and treatment can also reduce the potential chances of the child having Autism.
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Treatment For The Second Child After The First Autistic Child Being Born
The latest research indicates that one out of 20 infants having an elder autistic sibling is more likely to have this disorder. The treatment focuses on to identify autism as early as possible before the more symptoms show up. In this treatment, the healthcare professional gets involved in treating the child in the womb when the fetus brain is still responsive enough.
The Role Of The Cerebellum
A review of the literature published in the journal Neuron in 2014 proposes pre-natal injury to a specific portion of the brain, the cerebellum, may be related to autism. The review underscores the role of the cerebellum, which is located in the back of the brain, in relation to sensory input, social interaction, and facial expression recognition. These are all related to characteristics of autism. Additionally, the researchers note the cerebellum may affect how other areas of the brain develop, resulting in a cascading effect of deficits in a variety of areas.
The researchers propose prenatal injury could occur as a result of maternal stress or autoimmune response and manifest itself later as ASD. They note more research is needed in this area.
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Introduce The Concept Of A Growing Family To Your Child
There are multiple ways you can do this.
- Show them family photos. Family photos and baby pictures can help your child understand this important concept.
- Use picture books/simple stories. There are lots of books and other materials out there to teach children the ins and outs of welcoming a new sibling into the family. Find one that would work for your childor make your own storyand then read/present it to them as often as necessary.
- Watch TV shows. There are several childrens programs that specifically cover this very subject, such as Arthur, Dora the Explorer, and Caillou. Seek out TV episodes like this and show them to your child.
Staying In Good Health
Regular check-ups with a family physician and obstetrician are important. Maternal health throughout pregnancy has a significant impact on unborn children. Mothers should be immunized against German measles and get an influenza shot. Research at the MIND Institute found that viral infections can interfere with the babys brain cells and alter neural connections. Taking all precautions to avoid gestational diabetes can help lower the risk for autism. If possible, pregnant women should avoid prescriptions, especially antidepressants, with medical supervision. Having a dentist remove mercury-based amalgam fillings before conception could be beneficial. Babies neurological function is naturally enhanced by passing through the birth canal, so avoiding unnecessary Cesarean sections can help.
Autism is a complex disorder without a single known cause or trigger. Scientists agree that genetics is responsible for up to 90 percent of the autism risk. Whether a child develops ASD is usually out of the parents control. However, a study in the Molecular Psychiatry journal found that autism rates are 15 percent higher in children born to mothers in their 40s and 66 percent higher for fathers over 50. Births spaced two to five years apart are typically healthiest. Good pregnancy planning and the above health-conscious steps can effectively help expecting women prevent autism.
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Causes Of Autism Can Occur Before During And After Birth
Getting confused about what might cause autism? Small wonder. Research suggests risk factors play a role before conception, during fetal development, and after birth.
After decades of emphasis on autism being a hereditary condition, interest has shifted to environmental risk factors. A recent twin study showed that genetics accounts for only about 37 percent of the risk, the rest is environmental.
Heres a quick synopsis of just some of the research and theories:
Before conception Studies show that prior to conception, certain medications taken by the mother, maternal infection or diabetes, and exposure to toxins can all increase risk of autism. The age of the parents may play a role, the birth order of the child. . . and more.
During pregnancy: Maternal exposure to toxins and pesticides, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, as well as nutritional and hormonal imbalances can all put the fetus at increased risk for autism.
After birth: Premature delivery, low birth rate, and oxidative stress can play a role theories abound on environmental insults that can trigger the condition and many issues await more research. While the media carries the message of mainstream medicine, insisting that vaccines do not play a role, studies do not fully support this position.
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