What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder
There is no clear-cut cause of ASD. Some causes that are supported by research include genetic and some environmental factors. Specific genetic causes can only be identified in 10% to 20% of cases. These cases include specific genetic syndromes associated with ASD and rare changes in the genetic code.
Risk factors include older parental age, low birth weight, prematurity and maternal use of valproic acid or thalidomide during pregnancy, among others. This field of study is an active one for reasearch.
Associated Medical & Mental Health Conditions
- Autism can affect the whole body.;
- Attention Deficient;Hyperactivity;Disorder ;affects an estimated 30 to 61 percent;of children with autism.;
- More than half;of children with autism;have one or more chronic sleep problems.;
- Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 11 to 40 percent of children and teens on the autism spectrum.;
- Depression affects an estimated 7% of children and 26% of adults with autism.;
- Children with autism are nearly eight times more likely to suffer from one or more chronic;gastrointestinal disorders than are other children.;
- As many as one-third of people with autism have epilepsy;.;
- Studies suggest that schizophrenia affects between 4 and 35 percent of adults with autism. By contrast, schizophrenia affects an estimated 1.1 percent of the general population.;
- Autism-associated health problems extend across the life span from young children to senior citizens.;Nearly a third of 2 to;5 year;olds;with autism are overweight and 16 percent are obese. By contrast, less than a quarter of 2 to;5 year;olds;in the general population are overweight and only 10 percent are medically obese.;
- Risperidone and aripiprazole, the only FDA-approved medications for autism-associated agitation and irritability.;
Is Tv Keeping Up
Supplied: Zach Hyman
I was so excited to sit on the couch with Patch a few years ago and point out Sesame Street’s newest character, Julia.
I proudly told him “Julia’s on the autism spectrum, just like you”. A gorgeous, smiling, four-year-old playing with her friends and loving life.
Sesame Street spent five years gathering information before launching Julia as part of their See Amazing in All Children initiative.
So how do they describe Julia’s diagnosis on a program aimed at pre-schoolers?
“We did quite a bit of research on language,” Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice-president of US social impact with Sesame Street, says.
They canvassed the community and professionals extensively about describing Julia as autistic or having autism.
“In this case, we actually intertwine on using both,” Dr Betancourt says.
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They Have Unusual Eating Behaviors
Unusual eating behavior is a common occurrence in most people who develop autism. Autistic kids have extreme sensitivities and preferences when it comes to food choices. This can be frustrating to deal with. Yet it is a problem that if you are aware of, can save a lot of heartache. However remember that in this age of diets, we all have at some point developed unusual eating habits.
What Are Some Common Signs Of Asd
Even as infants, children with ASD may seem different, especially when compared to other children their own age. They may become overly focused on certain objects, rarely make eye contact, and fail to engage in typical babbling with their parents. In other cases, children may develop normally until the second or even third year of life, but then start to withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
The severity of ASD can vary greatly and is based on the degree to which social communication, insistence of sameness of activities and surroundings, and repetitive patterns of behavior affect the daily functioning of the individual.
Social impairment and communication difficultiesMany people with ASD find social interactions difficult. The mutual give-and-take nature of typical communication and interaction is often particularly challenging. Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact with other people, and only interact with others to achieve specific goals. Often children with ASD do not understand how to play or engage with other children and may prefer to be alone. People with ASD may find it difficult to understand other peoples feelings or talk about their own feelings.
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Autism Is Not An Illness
Being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people.
It’s something you’re born with or first appears when you’re very young.
If you’re autistic, you’re autistic your whole life.
Autism is not a medical condition with treatments or a “cure”. But some people need support to help them with certain things.
How Do Autistic Adults Behave
Some adults with autism struggle to communicate clearly. They struggle to understand the perspective of someone else. They follow routines like how to dress or what time to eat.
If these routines change, it can be hard for them. They might also have trouble reading other peoples facial expressions and body language.
Some adults with autism dont want things touching their face or other parts of their bodies. The autism spectrum disorder ranges from mild autism all the way up through high-functioning autism.
HFA is where individuals may show few signs at all and can function relatively normally.
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What About The Terms ‘high Functioning’ And ‘low
I was at an event recently where lots of kids were running around and met a mum who told me her son had an autism diagnosis but was “very high functioning, almost normal”.
Even leaving the whole “normal” discussion aside I wasn’t sure how to reply in a way that was respectful to both her child and mine.
The terms high functioning and low functioning are shorthand terms that are often used but are light on details about an individual and mean very little.
The current diagnostic model for autism determines levels of support required in specific areas, not levels of functioning. There is no diagnosis of low- or high-functioning autism.
Mr Bonnello says these terms make a lot of autistic people cringe.
“It’s very rare that I meet an autistic person that does like the phrase high functioning,” he says.
“That’s for two reasons, because it obviously implies that there’s a low functioning and I wouldn’t use the term low functioning because it is an insult.
“The other reason is because high functioning often gets interpreted as no additional needs â like autistic but got away with it.
“There’s a quote I heard somewhere that low-functioning autism means your strengths are ignored and high-functioning autism means that your weaknesses are ignored.”
The spectrum is not a line with low functioning at one end and high functioning at the other, and importantly how we all communicate and cope with the world changes from day to day and depending on the circumstances.
What Are The Causes Of Autism
Its natural to want to know what causes autism, however it is likely that there is not one single cause. While genetic differences are known to cause some types of autism, the causes of autism are largely unknown.
We do know that autism is a neurobiological difference, meaning that the brain processes information differently for people with autism, than it does for people who do not have autism.
We also know that parenting styles do not cause a child to develop autism.
Autism is not caused by vaccinations during or before pregnancy, and the falsely-reported link between the measles-mumps-rubella immunisation and autism has been retracted from the paper it was published in, and completely discredited by the research, scientific and medical community.
For more information about the current studies being undertaken into the causes of autism, visit our what causes autism section.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Autism
The medical community has yet to definitively explain why autism develops in some individuals and not in others. But there are several risk factors, both genetic and environmental, that have been found to be associated with the disorder, Veenstra-Vanderweele says.
There are other potential risk factors. Prenatal exposure to some medications, premature birth, low birth weight, as well as the age of an individual’s parents, may raise the odds. But a lot more research needs to be done to better understand those connections, Veenstra-Vanderweele says.
Parents and pediatricians need to work together to communicate to everyone the fact that vaccinations do not cause autism, Veenstra-Vanderweele says. Not vaccinating children puts those children at higher risk for diseases and increases the risk of those diseases spreading to others.
Translational PsychiatryJAMA Network Open
They Are Visual Learners
There are many ways to learn, and being autistic makes you no different. In this age of information overload, visual support helps autistic kids move more efficiently through the day. Before we judge our loved ones with autism as slow, remember that even we regular learners sometimes need some visual aid to help us process and digest information better.
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Restricted Behavior And Play
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are often restricted, rigid, and even obsessive in their behaviors, activities, and interests. Symptoms may include:
- Repetitive body movements ; moving constantly.
- Obsessive attachment to unusual objects .
- Preoccupation with a narrow topic of interest, sometimes involving numbers or symbols .
- A strong need for sameness, order, and routines . Gets upset by change in their routine or environment.
- Clumsiness, atypical posture, or odd ways of moving.
- Fascinated by spinning objects, moving pieces, or parts of toys .
- Hyper- or hypo-reactive to sensory input .
What Is The Difference Between Autism And Adhd
Autism and ADHD are sometimes confused with one another.
Children with an ADHD diagnosis consistently have issues with fidgeting, concentrating, and maintaining eye contact with others. These symptoms are also seen in some autistic people.
Despite some similarities, ADHD isnt considered a spectrum disorder. One major difference between the two is that people with ADHD dont tend to lack socio-communicative skills.
If you think your child may be hyperactive, talk with their doctor about possible ADHD testing. Getting a clear diagnosis is essential to ensure that your child is receiving the right treatment.
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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.
Experience What Autism Might Feel Like
The Cherokee tribe of Native Americans had a well-known proverb stating that you shouldnt judge a person before you have walked a mile in their shoes. Its practical advice to view a situation from the perspective of another before rendering an opinion. One can see how this type of thinking can lead to greater compassion and understanding of those around us.
But how can one really experience the perspective of another? Its certainly easier said than done. Consider the case of individuals with autism. These days almost everyone has heard of autism or autism spectrum disorders , both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and possible repetitive behaviors. According to the Centers for Disease Control , the current incidence of autism is 1 in 68 children.
As the father of a wonderful 11-year-old boy with autism, I constantly try to view the world from his perspective, hoping to gain insights into why he interacts with his environment in the unique way that he does.;But, how many people have even the faintest idea of what its like to have this disorder? And what an individual must endure going through what others would call a typical day?
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How Should I Tell My Child They Have Autism
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1) Integrate autism into everyday conversation;
If your child is diagnosed young, say as a toddler or preschooler, the experts recommend integrating autism into everyday conversation right from the start. Smith says parents can do this when the child is receiving autism interventions, attending social events for children with autism or watching TV or reading books that feature autistic characters. Its as simple as saying, Were going to the doctor today because you have autism, or Julia from Sesame Street is autistic like you.
Rather than avoiding the A-word, its just a matter of fact in family life, Smith says. There often isnt a need to be direct about telling them because theyll grow up knowing that word, and that its something characteristic of them.
Some families prefer talking about the differences in how their child thinks and perceives things before introducing the word autism, says Dundon, and thats totally fine. She recommends mentioning differences or autism in the context of a childs strength and challengesor by highlighting similarities and differences to others. For instance, Your autistic brain is really sensitive to those noises, or, Your brain works a bit differently than your brothers because you are autistic.
2) Set the stage for a positive conversation;
3) Focus on strengths, challenges and differences;
4) Let them know theres help and community
They Can Be Temperamental
Unusually, this is a sign or signal that something is wrong. When our loved ones seem to be agitated, withdrawn or manic, do not answer with a;quick and impulsive response to the behavior. Instead try to understand that these behaviors are symptom of missed communication. They may be trying to tell you they are tired, frustrated or hungry.
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Can You Be A Little Bit Autistic
It is not uncommon for people to ascribe certain behaviors or moods to medical conditions or suggest that they are driven by a diagnosable psychological disorder. Examples might include:
- “Oh, I know I’m picky. I’m just a little obsessive-compulsive.”
- “Yes, I’m moody. I guess I’m sort of bipolar.”
- “I’m in a crappy mood. I think I’m;depressed.”
All of these statements, which are used all the time, equate a passing mood or mild preference with a major mental illness.
But of course, picky eating is a far cry from obsessive-compulsive disorder , which can make it impossible to fulfill the demands of daily life. And, a passing feeling of unhappiness or moodiness can’t be compared in any meaningful way to the extreme challenges of bipolar disorder or clinical depression.
Some people may truly believe that spending 20 minutes choosing a color scheme for a party is akin to true OCD, or that a rotten mood is the same thing as major depression.
Others know better but will still use these terms as a colorful way to describe a passing emotion or;a behavior that’s not quite appropriate. This has extended to behaviors that some have haphazardly labeled as “autistic” or being “on the spectrum.”
What Role Do Genes Play
Twin and family studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism. Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected, then the other will be affected between 36 to 95 percent of the time. There are a number of studies in progress to determine the specific genetic factors associated with the development of ASD. In families with one child with ASD, the risk of having a second child with the disorder also increases. Many of the genes found to be associated with autism are involved in the function of the chemical connections between brain neurons . Researchers are looking for clues about which genes contribute to increased susceptibility. In some cases, parents and other relatives of a child with ASD show mild impairments in social communication skills or engage in repetitive behaviors. Evidence also suggests that emotional disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia occur more frequently than average in the families of people with ASD.
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Diagnosis In Older Children And Adolescents
ASD symptoms in older children and adolescents who attend school are often first recognized by parents and teachers and then evaluated by the schools special education team. The schools team may perform an initial evaluation and then recommend these children visit their primary health care doctor or doctors who specialize in ASD for additional testing.
Parents may talk with these specialists about their childs social difficulties including problems with subtle communication. These subtle communication issues may include problems understanding tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language. Older children and adolescents may have trouble understanding figures of speech, humor, or sarcasm. Parents may also find that their child has trouble forming friendships with peers.
Do I Believe That Everyone Is On The Spectrum
Personally, I feel like there is something to be said for both opinions. However, if someone is autistic and discussing the challenges they are facing, its better to just lend an ear than try and sympathise with a myth full of half-truths.
Even within the autistic community, I will never use my experiences of being autistic to judge or manipulate someone elses, as the complete variance of how autism impacts on us all means that, even as an autist myself, my opinions and experiences are so different to others that it would be damaging to assume everyone is like me.
This doesnt mean people should stop trying to empathise with autists though. But maybe next time, instead of saying;We are all on the spectrum try saying something like I see where youre coming from or Ive experienced something similar. It still sends the same message but it doesnt carry the same risk of backfiring and causing more harm than good.
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