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.
Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism
- Some people have had concerns that ASD might be linked to the vaccines children receive, but studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing ASD. The National Academy of Medicine, formerly known as Institute of Medicine, reviewed the safety of 8 vaccines to children and adults. The review found that with rare exceptions, these vaccines are very safe.Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality external icon
- A CDC study published in 2013 added to the research showing that vaccines do not cause ASD. The study focused on the number of antigens given during the first two years of life. Antigens are substances in vaccines that cause the bodys immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies. The results showed that the total amount of antigen from vaccines received was the same between children with ASD and those that did not have ASD.Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism external icon
Things That Dont Cause Autism
Everything from vaccines to vitamins has been blamed for causing autism so what do we believe? Here are four things that do not cause autism.
Everything from vaccines to vitamins has been blamed for causing autism but with all the myths flying around, how do we know what to believe?
Despite the common misconceptions, these four things that current research has shown do not cause autism.
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Challenges In Severe Autism
According to some researchers, the extreme behaviors seen in severe autism are very often the result of either frustration, sensory overload, or physical pain. Because people with severe autism have such a hard time communicating their needs verbally, they may find expression in behaviors that can be frightening to their caregivers and others.
If the behaviors can’t be addressed or managed, they can actually be dangerous; in many cases, it becomes impossible for parents or siblings to live safely with a severely autistic teen or adult.
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.”
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Kids Are Getting Diagnosed Sooner
There’s no laboratory or medical test for detecting autism, so doctors must rely on behavioral signs. In the past, many were reluctant to label a child as autistic until symptoms became obvious. “The average age for diagnosis had been about 3.5, with many children diagnosed much later,” says Amy Wetherby, Ph.D., director of the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at Florida State University, in Tallahassee. But that’s changing.
One reason is that pediatricians are becoming more aware of autism. At the same time, autism specialists are better at identifying early telltale signs such as a lack of babbling or pointing. “Most children with autism will show some signs of developmental disruption by their first birthday,” says Rebecca Landa, Ph.D., an autism researcher at Baltimore’s Kennedy Krieger Institute.
And while no one is yet diagnosing autism in children that young, doctors can now make a reliable assessment by 24 months;when a child’s brain is still rapidly developing. “If we can intervene while a child’s brain is very immature, it will be much easier to help change her behavior,” Dr. Wetherby says.
How Is Asd Diagnosed
ASD symptoms can vary greatly from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder. Symptoms may even go unrecognized for young children who have mild ASD or less debilitating handicaps.
Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by clinicians based on symptoms, signs, and testing according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders. Children should be screened for developmental delays during periodic checkups and specifically for autism at 18- and 24-month well-child visits.
Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- excessive lining up of toys or objects
- no smiling or social responsiveness
Later indicators include:
- impaired ability to make friends with peers
- impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
- absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
- repetitive or unusual use of language
- abnormally intense or focused interest
- preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
- inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
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Is Autism Considered A Behavioral Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability. This developmental disability can cause severe impairment in social, communication, and behavioral challenges.
The reason that autism can be considered a behavioral disorder is these challenges seen in terms of behavior.
CDC lists autism one of the developmental and behavioral disorders, which is a group of conditions caused by impairment in learning, behavior, physical and language areas.
They may begin early during developmental periods, and affect daily life.
Oftentimes, there is nothing about how people with autism spectrum disorder look that is different from other people.
However, the way that people with ASD communicate, interact, learn and behave differs from most other people.
Check For Physical Issues
Few people with severe autism have the ability to describe physical symptoms or problems. Thus, it’s a good idea to start by checking whether a child with severe autism has physical symptoms that may be exacerbating problem behaviors.
It’s not uncommon, for example, to discover that a child’s apparently aggressive behavior is actually a response to severe gastrointestinal painpain which can be treated through dietary changes. Once the pain is gone, the person finds it much easier to relax, engage, learn, and behave appropriately.
Myth: Genetically Modified Foods Cause Autism
Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder and some new-age medical practitioners with no formal training firmly believe that genetically modified foods cause autism in children. While theres no harm in providing a healthy and balanced organic or non-GMO diet for your child, it wont decrease the risk of an autism diagnosis. There are many other health benefits of organic foods, however, so dont immediately dismiss them as bunk. Just dont feel obligated to avoid GMO foods out of fear that theyre what causes autism.
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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Here We Set You Straight On 8 Common Myths About Autism
Is Asd Something That Happens During Infancy Or Childhood Or Does It Happen Earlier
The best scientific evidence right now suggests that ASD may begin as early as in the womb. Findings in brain pathology and imaging, gene expression, and prenatal exposure risk factors all point to in utero development as the critical period. Further, infant research in the first year of life shows behavioral and brain growth differences suggesting that ASD starts very early.
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What Is Niehs Doing
2018 Spirit Lecture
Watch Temple Grandin, Colorado State University, deliver a lecture at NIEHS, “Developing Individuals Who Have Different Kinds of Minds, 3rd Edition.” Also read about the lecture in this newsletter article.
NIEHS-funded researchers are primarily interested in risk factors related to gene and environment interaction. Key findings are grouped by topic below.
Air pollution Researchers found early-life exposure to air pollution may be a risk factor for autism.
- Children of mothers living near a freeway, and traffic-related pollution, during the third trimester of pregnancy were twice as likely to develop ASD. A distance of 1,014 feet, or a little less than 3.5 football fields, was considered near a freeway.2
- Children with a mutation in a gene called MET, combined with high levels of exposure to air pollution, may have increased risk.3
Prenatal conditions and maternal factors Problems with a mothers immune system, certain metabolic conditions, or inflammation during pregnancy may be linked with higher autism risk for her children.
- Some mothers of autistic children have antibodies, or proteins in the body that fight infection, that may interfere with their childrens brain development, possibly leading to autism.4
- Maternal diabetes or obesity are linked to increased likelihood of having a child with autism or other developmental disability.5
- Fever during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of autism for children.6
What Causes Asd
Scientists believe that both genetics and environment likely play a role in ASD. There is great concern that rates of autism have been increasing in recent decades without full explanation as to why. Researchers have identified a number of genes associated with the disorder. Imaging studies of people with ASD have found differences in the development of several regions of the brain. Studies suggest that ASD could be a result of disruptions in normal brain growth very early in development. These disruptions may be the result of defects in genes that control brain development and regulate how brain cells communicate with each other. Autism is more common in children born prematurely. Environmental factors may also play a role in gene function and development, but no specific environmental causes have yet been identified. The theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved. Multiple studies have shown that vaccination to prevent childhood infectious diseases does not increase the risk of autism in the population.
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How Can This Be
Autistics have some unique blend of up to five underlying health problems. ;These health problems have lists of symptoms that may overlap hugely, so they can be hard to tell apart. ;ALL health problems respond to a healthy lifestyle and the sicker you are, the bigger the impact a healthy lifestyle will have.
When you talk to health professionals who support autism turnarounds, many of them say, If you can restore an autistic person to health, you can restore ANYONE to health.
They say this because autistics get just about every illness we know about at such a young age that the stress changes how our brains develop . ;For more information on how stress changes development, I highly recommend Dr. Robert Scaers book, The Trauma Spectrum.
Unless there are certain co-occurring genetic syndromes, such as Downs or Fragile X, involved, our brains are developing just fine under all the physical, mental, and emotional disruption caused by these serious ailments we just cant communicate what were understanding.
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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Development In Autistic Children
Children with ASDs develop differently from other children. Children without ASDs develop at about the same rate in areas of development such as motor, language, cognitive, and social skills. Children with ASDs develop at different rates in different areas of growth. They might have large delays in language, social, and cognitive skills, while their motor skills might be about the same as other children their age. They might be very good at things like putting puzzles together or solving computer problems, but not very good at some things most people think are easy, like talking or making friends.
Children with ASDs might also learn a hard skill before they learn an easy one. For example, a child might be able to read long words, but not be able to tell you what sound a b makes. A child might also learn a skill and then lose it. For example, a child may be able to say many words, but later stop talking altogether.
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.
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Pharmacological And Dietary Interventions
The management of ASD is essentially non-pharmacological. However, certain drugs may be considered for the management of coexisting psychiatric or neurodevelopmental conditions and may occasionally have a short-term adjunctive role in alleviating core symptoms of ASD. Any pharmacological intervention should only be undertaken by doctors with appropriate training in the care of people with ASD.
Do not use the following interventions for the management of core features of autism in children and young people: antipsychotics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, exclusion diets .
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Vaccine Ingredients Do Not Cause Autism
- One vaccine ingredient that has been studied specifically is thimerosal. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative used to prevent germs from contaminating multidose vials of vaccines. Research shows that thimerosal does not cause ASD. In fact, a 2004 scientific review by the IOM concluded that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosalcontaining vaccines and autism.Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism external icon
Since 2003, there have been nine CDC-funded or conducted studies that have found no link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and ASD. These studies also found no link between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and ASD in children. Learn more about the CDC Studies on Thimerosal in Vaccines pdf icon.
Even before studies showed that thimerosal was not harmful, there was a national effort to reduce all types of mercury exposures in children. As precaution, thimerosal was removed or reduced to trace amounts in all childhood vaccines between 1999 and 2001. Currently, the only type of vaccine that contain thimerosal are flu vaccines packaged in multidose vials. There are thimerosal-free alternatives available for flu vaccine. For more information, see the Timeline for Thimerosal in Vaccines.
Besides thimerosal, some people have had concerns about other vaccine ingredients;in relation to ASD. However, no links have been found between any vaccine ingredients and ASD.
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