Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), also known as 'earlier infantile autism' is one of the most common development disabilities, affecting autistic child's brain structure, rendering them unable to attain normal development milestones such as socialization, communication, motor and sensory functioning and instinct for essential needs, making them unable to express and act like other neurotypical children.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that typically appears before a child's third birthday and profoundly affects the brain structure, leading to difficulties in achieving normal developmental milestones. It is characterised by challenges in socialisation, communication, motor and sensory functioning, and the instinct for essential needs. ASD is a lifelong disorder that, if not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, can significantly impact a person's daily life functioning.
Symptoms of ASD can vary, which is why it is referred to as a spectrum disorder. However, there are some common signs and symptoms that individuals with ASD may exhibit. These include:
- Trouble understanding and using physical gestures and cues, such as pointing or responding to others' pointing.
- Difficulty relating to and engaging with others or a lack of interest in social interactions.
- Limited ability to express feelings verbally.
- Resistance to adapting to new routines and significant changes.
- Avoidance of eye contact and a preference for being alone.
- Sensory sensitivities, such as being sensitive to loud sounds or certain textures, or a dislike of being touched or cuddled.
- Apparent unawareness when spoken to, but responsiveness to other sounds.
- Echolalia, which involves repeating words or phrases instead of engaging in normal conversation.
- Lack of engagement in pretend play activities.
- Engagement in repetitive behaviors.
- Regression or loss of previously acquired skills, such as language.
It is important to note that there is no medical test to diagnose ASD. If parents notice any of these signs in their children, it is recommended to consult with a neuro-pediatrician or healthcare professional who specialises in autism.
The causes of ASD are still not fully understood, but researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may contribute to its development. Genetic factors are estimated to account for 10% to 20% of ASD cases. Additionally, environmental factors, such as inadequate quality time spent with children, lack of attention to their needs, social isolation, and limited interaction with peers, may also play a role in the development of neurodevelopmental disorders like ASD. Other potential risk factors include low birth weight, advanced parental age, metabolic imbalances, and exposure to heavy metals and toxins.
EARLY SCREEN EXPOSURE AND ASD
There is some concern about excessive screen time and its potential impact on the development of ASD symptoms. Research suggests that prolonged exposure to electronic screens, such as mobile phones and other devices, can contribute to social isolation and hinder social interaction skills. However, it's important to note that technology itself is not the sole cause of ASD, and more research is needed to fully understand its relationship with the disorder.
Once a diagnosis is made, a management plan for the therapy of autistic children is typically developed. This plan involves a multi-disciplinary team, including a neuro-pediatrician, psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and behavior therapist, who work together to support the child's development and address their individual needs. Early intervention is crucial, as the brains of young children are more receptive to learning and can potentially benefit from therapy. Researchers are also studying early signs of ASD in toddlers to facilitate early detection and intervention.
In conclusion, ASD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects individuals across a spectrum. Early diagnosis and intervention, along with a multidisciplinary approach to therapy, can help individuals with ASD reach their developmental milestones and improve their quality of life.