Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complicated condition that includes problems with communication and behaviour. It can involve a wide range of symptoms and skills. ASD can be a minor problem or a disability that needs full-time care in a special facility.
Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.
Indicators of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of autism usually appear before a child turns 3. Some people show signs from birth.
- A lack of eye contact
- A narrow range of interests or intense interest in certain topics
- Doing something over and over, like repeating words or phrases, rocking back and forth, or flipping a lever
- High sensitivity to sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem ordinary to other people
- Not looking at or listening to other people
- Not looking at things when another person points at them
- Not wanting to be held or cuddled
- Problems understanding or using speech, gestures, facial expressions, or tone of voice
- Talking in a sing-song
- Trouble adapting to changes in routine
Some children with autism may also have seizures. These might not start until adolescence.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
These types were once thought to be separate conditions. Now, they fall under the range of autism spectrum disorders. They include:
- Asperger’s syndrome- These children don’t have a problem with language. But they have social problems and a narrow scope of interests.
- Autistic disorder- It refers to problems with social interactions, communication, and play in children younger than 3 years.
- Childhood disintegrative disorder-These children have typical development for at least 2 years and then lose some or most of their communication and social skills.
- Pervasive developmental disorder