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Types, Symptoms, and Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder

November 20, 2022

6 min read

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Author : United We Care
Types, Symptoms, and Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental condition that involves numerous challenges in social communication, repetitive behaviour, and restricted interests. Though autism is lifelong, the degree of functioning impairment varies depending on the type of autism.

What is A.S.D.?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (A.S.D.) is linked to brain development. It impacts the way we socialize and perceive others. It causes tons of problems in communication and social interactions. The condition also includes repetitive and limited behavioural patterns. Regarding autism spectrum disorder, the term ‘spectrum’ refers to the vast array of symptoms seen across the different types of autism.

A.S.D. usually begins during our early childhood and causes several issues. Many children show early signs of autism during their first year. A few children typically develop during the first year but go through a regressive period between 18 and 24 months and start developing symptoms of autism. Though there is no cure for A.S.D., early intervention can create a massive difference in our lives.

Symptoms of A.S.D.

Symptoms of A.S.D. vary from one person to the other and range from mild to severe. These signs are considered red flags that indicate that our child is at risk for autism. We can get our child evaluated if we notice any of these signs.

  • Persistent deficits in communication and social interaction

    • Deficits in social and emotional reciprocity include failure to conduct back-and-forth conversation, reduced sharing of interests, and failure to respond to social interactions.

    • Deficits in non-verbal communication include poorly integrated communication, abnormalities in eye contact, foul body language, and deficiencies in understanding gestures.

    • Deficits in developing and maintaining relationships include difficulties adjusting to different social contexts, problems making friends, and a lack of interest in peers.

  • They restricted repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities

    • Repetitive motor movements, speech, and objects (e.g., flipping objects, use of distinctive phrases, etc.)

    • Insistence on sameness, inability to adjust to new routines, or ritualized verbal and non-verbal behaviour (e.g., feeling distressed due to minor changes, rigid thinking patterns, insistence on taking the same route or eating the same food every day)

    • Highly focused and fixated interests with abnormal intensity (e.g., preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively perseverative or circumscribed interest, etc.)

    • Hypo / Hyperactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory stimuli (e.g., indifference to temperature/pain, adverse response to certain textures or sounds, fascination with movement or lights, etc.)

Types of A.S.D.

Several pervasive developmental disorders fall under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder. These include:

  • Asperger’s Syndrome: Lying on the milder side of the spectrum, a person living with Asperger’s is knowledgeable and handles their life well. We are usually quite focused on topics of interest and talk about them non-stop. However, we are not comfortable in social situations.

  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder: This includes children with more severe autism than Asperger’s syndrome but less potent than classic autism.

  • Autistic disorder: People with Autistic disorder show similar symptoms as PDD-NOS and Asperger’s but at an intense level.

  • Childhood disintegrative disorder: The rarest type of autistic spectrum disorder, it refers to a condition in which children usually develop during their early years but lose mental, language, and social skills rapidly between the ages of 2 and 4. Many such children also develop seizure disorders.

Risk Factors of Autistic Spectrum Disorder

There has been a rapid increase in the number of autism spectrum disorders seen these days. It may be due to better reporting and detection or due to an actual increase in the number of cases. It affects children worldwide, but a few factors may increase their risk. These include:

  • Child’s Sex: Boys are four times more likely to get A.S.D. than girls.

  • Family History: Families with a child having autism spectrum disorder are at a greater risk of having another child with the same condition. In many cases, a relative or parent of a child with autism has communication or social skills problems. They may also engage in behaviours typical of the disorder.

  • Extremely preterm babies: Babies born too ahead of time, such as before 26 weeks gestation, are at much significant risk of developing A.S.D.

  • Parent’s ages: Children born to older parents also have a much greater risk of developing autism spectrum disorder.

  • Other disorders: Children suffering from certain medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing A.S.D. Some examples of such diseases include tuberous sclerosis, fragile X syndrome, benign tumours in the brain, a genetic condition that slows head growth, Rett syndrome, and intellectual disability.

Treatment of A.S.D.

Though there is no cure for A.S.D., various effective interventions can help improve the child’s functioning. These treatment options include:

  • Applied Behavioral Analysis: This treatment involves systematically studying a child’s functional challenges and using it to develop a structured plan to improve the child’s adaptive skills.

  • Social skills training: Therapists conduct this in individual and group settings. Using this, we can help children living with autism improve their ability to deal with social situations.

  • Language and speech therapy helps improve the child’s understanding of language and speech patterns.

  • Occupational therapy: This therapy helps treat deficits in adaptive skills such as daily living activities and handwriting problems.

  • Special education services help address our children’s social communication deficits, repetitive behaviours, and restricted interests.

  • Medication: A child psychiatrist evaluates our child with autism spectrum disorder for anxiety, impulsivity, and co-morbid depression. If required, they can also prescribe the prescription needed.

How to cope with A.S.D.?

Having a kid with autism can impact the entire family. It can be expensive, stressful, and time-consuming. Paying attention to their emotional and physical health can help the whole family. To help our children cope successfully with A.S.D., we must learn as much as we can about the disorder. Defining a consistent routine and structure can help them positively deal with their day. Connecting with other parents going through the same thing will help us empathize and cope with the situation. For any specific concerns, we can always seek professional help.

Conclusion

For some children, the symptoms of A.S.D. reduce and become less apparent as the child gets older. We, as parents, need to be highly flexible and ready to adapt to new treatments as required. People with A.S.D. often go on to live everyday lives but may require our continuous support and services for life, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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