Autism

Autism is a brain disorder that often interferes with the ability to communicate and socialize. The sighs of autism are most often seen before the age of three, although the condition is diagnosed later. Most often parents start to worry when they notice that their child does not start to speak and does not act like other children of his age.

Autism affects the way in witch a child perceives and processes sensorial information. Autism can be more or less profound. Some children may need caregivers all their life whereas others can attend a normal school and adapt quite well. Medical and psychological treatment can improve the life of the affected person. Early diagnose helps people with autism to develop an independent life.

Causes

The causes of Autism are not very well known, but the disorder is caused by a genetic factor. Research is still in progress to determine the genes that cause the disorder. Brain scans showed that people with Autism suffer some brain abnormalities. Other studies show that people with Autism have a high level of serotonin neurotransmitter, a chemical substance that sends messages to the brain.

Symptoms

The severeness of the symptoms varies from person to person, but the main symptoms that people with Autism deal with are:

  • problems with verbal and nonverbal communication( looking in your eyes, body language)
  • social related problems
  • the lack of inters towards activities appropriate   for his age
  • lack of empathy
  • speech and language delay
  • echolalia (repetition of words and phrases); stereotyped and repetitive use of language
  • the presence of repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests, and activities

Often parents believe that their child can’t hear because he does not react when they talk to him. If proper treatment is began as early as possible, most of autistic children improve their communicational and social skills and are able to look after themselves.

Teenagers with Autism, although have a deficit in their ability to relate to others, make big improvements in their conduct. Puberty and sexual awareness can become the cause of anxiety and depression.

In adulthood, some persons with autistic disorder can even engage themselves in a range of activities and develop a career. Most often this depends on their QI level and their ability to communicate.  Approximately 33% of people suffering from autistic disorders can live independently or require some help. Others have no possibility to live on their own and need permanent supervision.

Other symptoms

Approximately 10% of autistic persons are gifted, have special talents and a very high QI level. They can memorise a list of words, be very good in maths, painting or music.

Diagnosis

Every physician that works with children should be constantly preoccupied to discover if there are any signs that the child could suffer from development disorders. Screening tests, psychological tests and other methods should be used for a proper evaluation. In case that the following symptoms are noticed, the child should be immediately seen by a specialist:

  • does not prattle, does not point his finger at things, does not make any gestures until 12 months old
  • does not speak simple words until 16 months old
  • does not make up any simple 2-word phrases until 24 months old

Children that have a close relative who suffers from autism or other development disorder condition have a higher chance to also suffer from it. These children should be tested in order to find out if any developmental, learning, social ability disorders are present. If any behavioural, learning and/or communication disorders are noticed, parents should immediately address to a psychologist. Early diagnosis can lead to what is called functional autism, that is a person who suffers from Autism but is able to look after itself and live a relative independent life, reaching its maximum potential.

The qualified persons to diagnose Autism are:

  •  the paediatrician
  •  the psychologist
  •  the logopedist

Treatment

Appropriate early intervention is crucial for the child to reach its maximum potential.  The main objective of the treatment is to develop the child’s capacity to become functional. Symptoms of Autism can combine in so many ways that it is impossible to recommend the same treatment to all the patients. This is why treatment is designed for every patient individually, taking into account its needs and its family resources. However, children with Autism best respond to highly structured and strategic treatment.

Parents should have a proactive approach to the child’s conditions and learn about the treatment and about how can improve their child’s development. They should learn how to deal with the difficult personality, the behavioural disorders; they should know ho to understand the child’s needs even if he or she does not express them. Parents should also be well informed about the rights that they and their child have. Law offers some rights to disabled children, and autistic children fit in this category.

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