Autism is a spectrum of disorders that presents itself through communication and social interaction issues. Different people are affected in different ways by autism. The exact cause of autism is not known but genetics and environmental factors seem to play a part in the development of autism. A diagnosis of autism is made by a multidisciplinary team made up of psychologists, therapists, and neurologists, and requires thorough screenings and tests.
Autism has no known cure, and therefore, it is treated by managing the symptoms to enable the person to better cope with the condition. Autism affects boys more than girls. A family medicine physician in Santa Monica can make the diagnosis of autism at an early age and this will help to improve the development of your child by better meeting the individual’s unique needs.
What are the Symptoms of Autism?
Autism presents itself with communication and social interaction difficulties, as well as other behavioral challenges. The communication and social interaction problems can include difficulties in starting or participating in conversations, inability to speak, delay in speaking, failure to respond when you call to them or times they can hear you speaking, lack of facial expressions, and speaking with a distinctly unusual or robot-like tone.
They also might appear like they do not understand things you say to them. They might be unable to maintain eye contact or show emotions and may be unable to interpret nonverbal cues like facial expressions. They might regularly repeat words and often prefer being alone. They may not like cuddling or being held. They may be awkward in social interactions to the point they may avoid them or become very aggressive.
Behavioral problems can include having strict routines and outbursts or disproportionate reactions when the routine is missed or altered. Sometimes they can be perfectionists. They may have difficulties with coordination like being clumsy, and sometimes they can have self-harming tendencies. They can be unable to imitate things. They can be extremely sensitive to sounds, lights, and physical touch. Sometimes they can become abnormally fascinated by an object and will focus on it to an extreme extent. They have strict food preferences.
These symptoms may cause an autistic person to have social challenges such as learning difficulty, loneliness due to trouble with social interactions, varying levels of possible dependency, being bullied, experiencing difficulty obtaining employment, and the possibility of facing rejection from some people. There is no way to prevent or cure autism, and therefore it’s important to provide conservative therapies to offer appropriate strategies and skills that grant autistic individuals freedom and a higher chance to succeed in different aspects of their life.
Some of the ways to help manage the symptoms are through speech and behavioral therapy where they are taught different communication methods and behavioral skills which provides alternative and more effective ways for them to cope. The parents of autistic children are taken through family therapy as well so that they can learn and understand different or more effective ways to appropriately interact with and teach additional skills to their children. They can also benefit from physical therapy to help improve any issues involved with their child’s movement. Autism increases the risk of other disorders like anxiety, sleeping disorders, and depression, and these can require medical treatment.
What Causes Autism?
The exact cause of autism is unknown but it has been proven that genetics and environmental factors play a role in the development of autism. Some genetic conditions like fragile X syndrome are associated with autism and other genes that affect brain development. Some of these gene mutations are hereditary while others occur spontaneously. Having a first-degree relation to a family member with autism increases the risk of autism developing down the family line.
Environmental factors like exposure to toxins, heavy metals, and infection with viruses at an early age may also contribute to autism. Other risk factors include premature birth, an extremely low birth weight, advanced age of the parents at the time of a baby’s birth, and medications like thalidomide and valproate if they’re taken during pregnancy.
Autism is a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders that presents itself with communication, social interaction, and behavioral problems. Genetics and environmental factors contribute to the development of autism. Autism has no cure but the symptoms can be managed by speech and behavioral therapy, physical therapy, and educational therapy.