Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | Causes | Diagnosis | Treatment

Overview

Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder in which individuals behave, communicate, interact, and learn differently from others. Autism is a developmental disorder that often gets diagnosed in the first two years of childbirth. ASD begins before three years of age; some children might meet the developmental milestone until the age of 18 to 24 months and then lose the skills they have developed.

Signs and symptoms of ASD

Interactive skills characters of children with ASD

  • Do not keep or avoid eye contact

  • Will show no facial expressions

  • Using non-verbal gestures and lacking proficiency

  • Cannot play simple interactive games by 12 months of age

  • Do not use gestured by 12 months of age

  • Do not notice when others are hurt by 24 months

  • Will not play with other children by 36 months

  • Will not sing or dance by 60 months

Restricted or repetitive behaviors

  • Repeats words again and again

  • Will play with toys in the same manner

  • Will follow certain routines

  • Will react differently to sound, taste, smell, look and feel

Epidemiology

One in every 100 children is estimated to have autism. However, these estimates vary significantly; the prevalence is unknown in several middle and lower-income countries.

Causes:

Certain environmental and genetic factors are expected to cause autism. There is no evidence that any childhood vaccine causes autism.

Diagnosis

Developmental Monitoring: It is critical to monitor whether the child meets the developmental milestones, and it should be an ongoing process. It involves monitoring whether the child is meeting the developmental milestones as per the age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends developmental and behavioral screening at nine months, 18 months, and 30 months. Further, it recommends screening children for ASD, specifically at 18 months and 24 months.

Treatment

Behavioral approaches: Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is an approach in which desired behaviors are encouraged and undesired behaviors are discouraged.

  • Discrete Trial Training (DTT): In this training, desired behaviors are rewarded, and undesired behaviors are ignored

  • Pivotal Response Training (PRT): This is more a real-world training, where few key skills are developed that are critical for developing other skills

Developmental approaches: It aims to develop language or physical skills. The most common developmental approach is speech and language therapy. Occupational therapy teaches the individual to live independently (includes dressing, bathing, eating, etc.).

Psychological approaches: The main aim is to deal with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) will help to understand the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In this approach, the therapist aims to change how a person thinks about the situation and how they act.

Medication: Aripiprazole and risperidone are indicated for treating autism-related irritability

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