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Autism Uncovered: Understanding the What, Why, and How?

Updated: May 26, 2023

From Diagnosis to support: Unlocking the mystery of Autism

Autism, clinically referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental issue that affects behavioral and communication traits in a person. It is primarily a disorder wherein the brain finds it difficult to establish coordination between various parts thereby making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. The indicators vary from mild to extreme over a wide range of symptoms thereby justifying the term autistic spectrum. An autistic person might need help with everyday chores or he may be all by himself without any problem. It all depends on where his symptoms fall on the spectrum. The abilities of people with ASD can often be seen across two opposite ends of the spectrum. For instance, some people with ASD may be highly skilled speakers whereas a few may be nonverbal. Individuals with ASD may require varying degrees of assistance in their daily activities; while some individuals may require minimal or no assistance and can work and live independently, others may need significant support.

What are the Symptoms?

ASD may be detected as early as during the first year of a child and may stay lifelong. If left untreated, it may pose many social and behavioral difficulties. What are the symptoms: While the symptoms and their intensity may vary from person to person, the most common signals are listed below:

  • Repetition in behavior (action or movement)

  • Restlessness, hyper mode Stuck (activities/objects)

  • Specific routines, which when changed even slightly are too much to handle

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch, light, and sound

  • Uncoordinated gross motor skills

  • Aggression

  • Short attention span

An autistic person may need little or negligible to substantial support for performing daily chores. ASD is categorized under three levels Autism level 1, level 2, and level 3. If we consider communication skills, a person falling under level 1 can speak complete sentences but finds it difficult to carry on or initiate a conversation. A person with level 2 is likely to speak in easy and simple sentences and finds it difficult to understand nonverbal forms of communication. For a level 3 autistic person, speaking is a big challenge. Initiating social interactions is a rare sight. A person with this trait may naturally exhibit uncomfortable or socially awkward behavior and may require very direct social cues from others to respond effectively.

Why does it happen?

Autism was first described in the 1940s but not much was stated until the past few decades. There are many reasons to account for but narrowing it down to one isn’t possible. However, for brain damage at the time of birth or late age pregnancy, genetics are most likely to be responsible. Maybe it runs in the family and is the most likely connection. However, research scholars are coming up with studies that point fingers toward medications too. Autistic children are highly likely to be born to mothers who have been exposed to particular drugs, alcohol, or anti-seizure medications. Maternal metabolic conditions like obesity, and diabetes.

How is autism diagnosed?

As autism is a disorder that affects development, it can be identified in children through developmental screenings. Routine checks at every milestone can indicate the signs of autism. Further investigations are carried out once, the signs appear in the initial screenings. These evaluations might include hearing, vision, and generic tests. While autism is best treated when detected at the right time. Sooner the better. However, in cases when autism surfaces or the need arises to be checked in adulthood, things get a little difficult. The major reason is the absence of any established procedure for diagnosis in the case of adults. However, self-assessment tests are the best to begin with followed by seeking professional help.

The primary hindrance in adult diagnosis is being in denial mode. Additionally, with age, one can master the skill of hiding imperfections (symptoms here). So, getting hold of the symptoms and starting the treatment becomes a challenge. Also, seeking answers to childhood questions may not be easy too. Either you might not be knowing the occurrences or you might not be in a state to refer such questions to the ones knowing about you. Despite, the complications in diagnosis, there are behavioral therapies, medications, and lifestyle changes which could come up as a savior.

How is autism treated?

Well, as such there is no cure for autism but certain therapies and support groups can help bring about the desired change to quite some extent. Behavioral therapies work on treating the child with rewards by performing appropriate behavior. Educational therapies help to enhance social, and communication skills while family therapies assist the family members in helping out the autistic member in prescribed ways. As such there are no prescribed medicines to treat autism but certain medications can help curb the symptoms. The bottom line is, that ASD isn’t a very straightforward disorder and no treatment follows the one size fits all concept. But, with due efforts and appropriate resources, the required coping skills can be mastered to enjoy life.

It’s all about Connect, Consult & Heal.

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