The Centers for Disease Control Prevention estimates that one in every 150 children suffers from autism and this number is on the rise as it is growing at a 10 to 17 percent rate.
Autism can affect any child and bears no relation to race, age, ethnicity, or lifestyle. However, boys are four times more likely to be affected than girls.Autism is not a mental illness. It occurs as a result of a neurological ailment that affects the working of the brain.
Abnormalities in the brain structure cause autism. It is a developmental disability that appears within the first three years of a child’s life. It affects communication and social interaction skills and is characterized by the lack of such skills and repetitive behaviors.
Researchers are studying the possibility of the basis of autism being genetic and are also exploring other factors such as metabolic disparity, viral infections, and exposure to environmental toxins.
Autistic children may not be able to talk to you or, if they do talk, then cannot do so eye to eye. Some autistic people never talk at all. The repetitive behavior mentioned may be the going over and over of a sequence of events like lining up pens, or saying the same sentence over and over again. Their conversation may be directed at you instead of to you.
Different people have different symptoms so autism is known as a spectrum disorder. A milder form is Asperger’s Syndrome.
Doctors and researchers have not yet established what causes autism. It will affect people throughout their lifetimes and, while there is no cure, treatment is available.
As said before no two children diagnosed with autism will show the same kind of behavior. Their capabilities can vary and the treatment will vary accordingly. Appropriate treatment and education can help such children learn and improve to function normally.
Autistic people will show traits of preferring to be alone and finding it difficult to mix with people; they would prefer no kind of physical contact or eye contact take place; resisting change; they have no sense of real danger; are not responsive to conversation and may make gestures rather than communicate with words.
These traits can be overcome with appropriate treatment and the symptoms may lessen as the child grows.
A doctor will diagnose autism based on an observation of a child’s behavior, communication skills, and developmental levels.
Autism should be distinguished from other medical conditions such as retardation, mental disorder, and hearing loss so that an accurate diagnosis can be made and the proper treatment started.
Parents or other caregivers should provide information about the child’s developmental history so that an early diagnosis can be made. This increases the chances of a child benefiting from the appropriate treatment and intervention methods tailored to his specific needs. Behavior will become less disruptive and the child will have skills that make him more independent.
Bringing up a child with autism is a great challenge. Take the help of friends and family and support groups. Learn about the disorder and what kind of treatment is best for your child and then take it one day at a time.