A Parents Guide To Autism Spectrum Disorders
Millions of people globally have autism spectrum disorders , also known as autism, which are neurological conditions that can affect the way people communicate, socialize, and behave. The disorders also affect parents and other loved ones who might wonder how they can find assistance.
We often hear about autism, but we might not know what it is. It could be useful to describe the condition and how it affects the people with it as well as the people who love them.
Autistic People May Act In A Different Way To Other People
Autistic people may:
- find it hard to communicate and interact with other people
- find it hard to understand how other people think or feel
- find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable
- get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events
- take longer to understand information
- do or think the same things over and over
If you think you or your child may be autistic, get advice about the signs of autism.
Autism Spectrum Disorders Substance Abuse And Addiction
Although many people with ASDs dont tolerate rule-breaking, substance abuse and addiction both appear to have ties to autism spectrum disorders.
Researchers discovered that people with ASDs and higher IQs had twice the risk of developing problems relating to substance use. If they also have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder , their addiction-related risks are even higher.
Like other people with anxiety, some people with ASDs turn to drugs and alcohol as ways to cope. Using alcohol and drugs might make it easier for people with ASD to socialize, to fit in with others who are using such substances, and to cope with their sensory sensitivities.
Addiction and substance abuse are thus not foreign to people with ASDs .
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How Does Autism Affect Kids
Sometimes, children with autism are unable to interact socially. This makes them isolated from other children.
He may not understand how to play with other kids his age. They lack empathy, which means they are unable to put themselves in others shoes.
As a result, they tend to hurt peoples feelings by doing or saying shocking or mean things. Because of these traits, Autistic children may appear unkind and heartless.
How Can Parents Find Help
As overwhelming as the conditions can be, parents can remind themselves that autism spectrum disorders are diagnoses. Theyre not the only aspects of their or their childrens lives.
Parents of children of ASDs can:
- Recognize the progress they and their children have made.
- Acknowledge the positive things theyre doing in the present.
- Take time for themselves.
Building support systems is also crucial. It takes a village to raise a child, and exposure to other caring people can benefit children with ASDs and the people who are raising them. Such support might be especially useful when single parents are raising children with ASDs or the caretakers need some assistance.
Letting go of the need to be perfect can also be helpful for parents, as can forgiving themselves for their mistakes. Learning from mistakes can be a more constructive way of parenting children with ASDs .
There are various resources to help people understand ASDs, search for treatment providers, and find support groups and other assistance.
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Research Provides Clues About The Causes Of Autism
The rapidly increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorder makes finding out what causes ASD even more vital. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , ASD now affects 1 in 59 children . By contrast, 1 in 150 children were affected in the year 2000. Other studies suggest that current prevalence may be even higher.
The quick and easy answer to the cause of autism is, We dont know. However, we do have more understanding than this, although the answer is complex. The current understanding of ASD is that there are multiple causes of ASD, not a singular cause of all cases.
We currently know that ASK is associated with many genetic disorders, such as fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Down syndrome, Rett syndrome, and neurofibromatosis. The knowledge of these genetic disorders and their link to autism has led many scientists to believe that the cause of ASD is primarily genetic. The heritability of ASD was estimated by scientists to be about 90%. At present, the known genetic disorders that increase the risk of ASD make up at most 25% of cases of ASD.
What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorders
As with other conditions, scientists arent certain what causes autism spectrum disorders but believe that:
- Genes may make people more likely to develop ASDs.
- Older parents are more likely to have biological children with ASDs.
- Some chromosomal or genetic conditions may increase the chances of ASDs.
- Pregnant women who take medications such as thalidomide and valproic acid may have an increased likelihood of having children with ASDs.
- Children who have siblings with ASDs also have a higher risk of having ASDs.
Scientists also believe that there are critical times that may affect when someone develops the conditions. These times are before, during, and soon after birth.
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What Autistic People Have To Say
Through our Stories from the Spectrum series, weve spoken to several autistic people, who have shared their thoughts on this topic, what being autistic is like for them, and some of the positive aspects of being autistic.
“I just seem to see and think about people and the world in a different way. It’s part of who I am.” John Clark
John Clark, autistic filmmaker, told us:“I just seem to see and think about people and the world in a different way. For instance, I am both confused and fascinated by idioms. Its part of who I am. I used to be very self-conscious about people liking and accepting me, but now, I just think, take me or leave me. Were all different. Some people seem to find live and let live a difficult mantra to grasp though.”
Patrick Samuel, autistic artist and musician, said: “My autism;makes it easy for me to do things a lot of non-autistic people may struggle with. I work intensely when Im painting, writing, composing or doing anything creative. I think being autistic also contributes to my aptitude in problem solving and pattern recognition, which can help me research a highly specialised subject and give talks on it.”
The Controversy With Asd And Vaccines
In recent years, there has been speculation about whether childhood vaccines might cause autism. Its very important to realize that this has been completely debunked in the scientific literature. Vaccines do not cause autism!
This speculation began in the late 1990s when a paper was published in the Lancet. In that paper, the authors attributed the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine to potentially being the cause of children developing autism. The study was deeply flawed, and follow-up research discounted the study.
In 2010, the Lancet issued a retraction. Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has published a statement explaining clearly that vaccines are not the cause of autism.
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What Doesn’t Cause Autism
There was a bleak period in history from the 1950s to 1970s when autism was believed to be a psychological disorder, and blamed on cold, uncaring parents, usually the mothers.
Fortunately, the myth of the refrigerator mother has been debunked by science, and autism is now recognised as a disorder of brain development with genetic links. Nothing you said or did as a parent caused your child to develop autism, so please dont listen to anyone who suggests otherwise.
Scores of scientific studies have effectively ruled out vaccines as a cause of autism. Concerns originally arose around two issues of Mercury and the MMR Vaccine
In 2014, a meta-analysis, combining the result of 10 studies and over 1.2 million children, found no link between vaccines and autism. The World Health Organization, the European Medicines Agency, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading international health groups have also concluded theres no link. Unfortunately, the belief persists among anti-vaccination campaigners, who are very vocal on the Internet. If you remain concerned about vaccines, arrange a time to talk your paediatrician or GP. Remember, Vaccines Save Lives!
Autism Spectrum Disorders And Schizophrenia
Social withdrawal and muted emotional responses are possible symptoms of schizophrenia as well as autism spectrum disorders. Sometimes, people with ASDs also have schizophrenia.
Both conditions are related to problems with sensory processing and thinking, and brains that develop in atypical ways. Rates of ASDs are higher in children who develop schizophrenia before age 13. Schizophrenia typically occurs in late adolescence and young adulthood.
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Autism Spectrum Disorders And Obsessive
Autism spectrum disorders are also often linked with obsessive-compulsive disorder , a psychological condition marked by agitation, repeated behaviors, and other symptoms.
Researchers in a 2015 study determined that people who have received diagnoses for ASD were twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of OCD later in their lives. People diagnosed with OCD were four times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD later.
People with ASDs often have anxiety or engage in repeated behaviors to soothe themselves, and so do people with OCD. It can be challenging to differentiate between the two or determine if people have either or both.
Autism Screening And Diagnosis
It can be hard to get a definite diagnosis of autism. Your doctor will focus on behavior and development.
For children, diagnosis usually takes two steps.
- A developmental screening will tell your doctor whether your child is on track with basic skills like learning, speaking, behavior, and moving. Experts suggest that children be screened for these developmental delays during their regular checkups at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months of age. Children are routinely checked specifically for autism at their 18-month and 24-month checkups.
- If your child shows signs of a problem on these screenings, theyâll need a more complete evaluation. This might include hearing and vision tests or genetic tests. Your doctor might want to bring in someone who specializes in autism disorders, like a developmental pediatrician or a child psychologist. Some psychologists can also give a test called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule .
If you werenât diagnosed with autism as a child but notice yourself showing signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor.
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Problems With Communication And Social Interaction
These can include:
- issues with communication, including difficulties sharing emotions, sharing interests, or maintaining a back-and-forth conversation
- issues with nonspeaking communication, such as trouble maintaining eye contact or reading body language
- difficulties developing and maintaining relationships
These Specialists Should Be Consulted In The Treatment Of Autistic Children
Autism is a spectrum syndrome which means that two children do not necessarily show the same condition but have different ranges of severity or that the condition is different rather than a single condition. And its severity may vary from child to child.
Therefore, two children diagnosed with autism may have very different conditions, not specific symptoms such as chickenpox or malaria, which cause common symptoms in each sufferer.
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How To Diagnosis Of Autism
There is no specific medical test to diagnose autism. Psychologists can diagnose the disease by examining a variety of behaviors and movements.
Some of the symptoms of autism in children last a lifetime, some of which are treated with medication. Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls.
Brain Shape And Brain Growth During Development
Brain scans of autistic people show that there are differences in the way their brains are shaped and structured as compared to neurotypical people.
During early childhood, the brains of children with autism grow faster than usual and typically develop more cells than they need.
They might also have poor connections between these cells. In children without autism, a process called pruning doesnt happen in children with autism. This means that sometimes information could pass through wrong connections and cause it to be lost.
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How Is Autism Diagnosed
Many studies have found that early diagnosis can make a huge difference in the life of a child. Autism can be diagnosed by using different screenings, genetic tests, and evaluations. We are going to discuss them one by one.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children must be screened for ASD at the ages of 18 and 24 months.
Autism Spectrum Disorders And Depression
Young people and adolescents with ASDs also are more likely to have depression. Researchers have found that people with autism spectrum disorders are four times more likely to have depression during their lives.
In addition to feelings of hopelessness and physical symptoms such as tiredness, depression in people with ASDs can consist of:
- Obsessive behaviors
- Sleep problems
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What Are The Symptoms Of Autism In Children
According to psychologists, the symptoms of autism include hundreds of types of behaviors, but these behaviors are of two types, mild and severe.
According to the international organization National Autism Association, children with autism are socially different from normal children.
Some children with the disease appear to be normal before the age of one or two. But in later years, their attitudes begin to change abruptly.
According to psychologists, these are some of the symptoms of autism
- Avoiding social relationships.
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.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Children with ASD often have problems with:
- body language and eye contact
- social interactions
In toddlers, parents might notice:
- delayed speech
- using only a few gestures
- not responding when someone calls their name
- avoiding eye contact
- not sharing enjoyment or interests with others
- unusual ways of moving the hands, fingers, or whole body
- being very focused or attached to unusual objects
- little to no imitating of others or pretending
- unusual sensory interests
- rituals such as repeating things over and over or lining up objects
Milder symptoms may not be recognized until a child is older and has problems with:
- forming friendships
- knowing how to act in different social situations
- unusual, intense interests in specific topics or activities
No two people with ASD have the same signs and symptoms. Many things can play a role, such as language delays, thinking and learning problems, and behavioral challenges. For this reason, autism is described as a “spectrum.”
How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosed
There are no laboratory tests to determine ASD. However, certain healthcare providers receive specific training and can do screenings and evaluations if needed and who might ask parents or teachers to record observations. These providers might include specialized physicians, psychologists and speech-language pathologists.
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What Does An Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis Mean For My Child
Since people with autism spectrum disorders have different symptoms, their diagnoses and potential outcomes are also different.
Children and adults with more severe ASDs might need more assistance and so might their family members and friends. Loved ones might be shocked and stunned, mourning the lives they imagined for themselves. Or, they might be relieved to know that their problems are real, have names, and that there are ways to understand and treat them.
There are many resources for understanding and treating ASDs and other conditions. After a diagnosis, concerned friends and relatives might want to order a copy of the 100 Day Kit for Young Children from Autism Speaks. This kit explains autism and its diagnosis, describes symptoms and behaviors, gives resources, and provides weekly plans.
Addressing and diagnosing ASDs instead of ignoring or minimizing them can help people with ASDs and the people who care about them.
The Effects Of Autism
People with autism are unable to focus on any important topic or discussion and have difficulty expressing their feelings and emotions.
They even have difficulty understanding the feelings of others.
According to official US statistics, one in 59 school-going children has autism.
According to a study by experts, people who become fathers by the age of 50 have an increased risk of autism in their unborn children and this trend continues from generation to generation.
Experts have not been able to find the final results and treatment for this disease. People with autism like to be isolated and alone, and some need the help of others because they cannot live alone.
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Treatment Considerations: Transitioning Youth And Adults
The core challenges associated with ASD can have an impact on the ability to succeed in postsecondary educational programs, employment, and social relationships, and to acquire the skills needed to live independently .
Individuals with ASD who are transitioning to young adulthood experience high rates of unemployment and underemployment and may have difficulty maintaining employment once secured . Socially, they may discontinue friendships, participate in fewer social activities , and experience social isolation .
These findings highlight the need for continued support to facilitate a successful transition to adulthood. SLPs are involved in transition planning in high school and may be involved, to varying degrees, in other support services beyond high school.
Transition planning for individuals with ASD may include
- determining the need for continued therapy, if appropriate;
- identifying career goals and educational needs;
- providing academic or career counseling;
- providing opportunities for work experience;
- discussing housing options; and
- facilitating community networking .
Effective transition planning involves the student as an active and respected member of the team as well as their family, who can provide valuable information about the student’s needs. See ASHA’s resource on transitioning youth.