Autism In Children – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
What are the Causes of Autism?
Autism is a condition that affects many people, both children and adults. Autistic people display a variety of symptoms, and there are several different kinds of autism. In general, autism involves a lack of communication skills, a tendency to be extremely withdrawn and an inability to conform to many everyday conventions. There are many factors that appear to play a part in autism, though even experts do not claim to know the exact cause.
Most researchers who have studied autism believe it is at least partly genetic. Autism does tend to run in families, and parents with autistic family members are more likely than average to have autistic children. While genes almost certainly play a part in this condition, most experts believe that many other factors are also involved. A child is more likely to develop autism if it runs in the family, but it also depends on the environment he or she is raised in. Scientists are still studying this issue, and as more is learned about genetics, it will be easier to see which genes are associated with autism.
There is evidence that autism is related to problems with the immune system. Children with autism are especially prone to a variety of physical problems associated with the immune system. One theory is that many children become autistic because of exposure to certain types of viruses. For this reason, some researchers are looking into treating autism by boosting the immune systems of people with this condition. Yet autism takes many different forms, and most experts don’t believe there is a single cause. It does appear, however, that the immune system plays a part, at least in some cases of autism.
Some scientists believe that the reason autism seems to be increasing in the population is due to environmental toxins. Mercury, lead and other heavy metals, are often cited as at least partly responsible for the increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with autism in recent decades. The use of pesticides, as well as toxic household chemicals have also been blamed as likely causes of autism. There is little doubt that people today are exposed to many more chemicals and toxins than in the past. More studies are needed before it can be stated with certainty if these are a cause of autism. There is still debate among experts if autism is really more common today than in the past, or if children today are just more likely to be given this diagnosis.
Most Common Symptoms of Autism
As increasing numbers of children are diagnosed with autism, this condition is affecting more and more families. Autism has quite a few symptoms, and many of these overlap with other conditions, so parents with children they suspect may be autistic are advised to get a professional opinion. The following are some typical symptoms of autism.
It is normal for children, from the time they are born, to want to be touched and cuddled. One of the symptoms of autism is that children do not like to be touched. This is something that is obvious at a very young age, and parents understandably find it distressing that their own children don’t like to be picked up or hugged. While autistic children display many different symptoms, the dislike of physical contact is fairly common. There are some therapies that attempt to overcome this symptom by trying to get autistic children accustomed to human touch, but it is still unclear if these methods are effective. Autistic children generally become very uncomfortable when their sense of personal space is violated.
One symptom of autism that applies to even the highest functioning autistic people, such as those with Asperger’s Syndrome, is a difficulty understanding things like tone of voice and body language in others. In other words, autistic people are unable to “read” other people, and often do not pick up what, to others, would be obvious clues that someone is happy, sad, angry, etc. They also tend to not understand language that is not literal, such as metaphors, humor or sarcasm. In general, to communicate effectively with autistic people, the message has to be given in a very direct and literal way. This can make it difficult for even high functioning autistic people to converse or communicate with others, especially those who aren’t familiar with the symptoms of autism.
Autistic children often display symptoms such as extreme attachments to objects, repetitive movements or rituals that don’t make sense to others. For example, an autistic child may become fixated on an object such as a pencil, a rock or a shoe, staring at it for hours. Or they may develop their own personal rituals, such as walking around in a circle or moving their hands around in a certain way. In some cases, this kind of behavior can be dangerous or self destructive, as some autistic children will bang their heads against a wall. For this reason, some children with autism are given medication to control their behavior or restrained to prevent them from harming themselves or others. This, however, only applies to people with severe symptoms of autism.
What Parents of an Autistic Child Should Keep in Mind
If you’re the parent of an autistic child, you certainly have a lot to deal with. You have to make sure your child is getting the right professional care, is going to a school that is able to meet his needs, and that you’re doing the best job you can at home. The following are some suggestions to keep in mind, though naturally each autistic child is a little different.
You should stay informed on the latest developments in treating autism. This is a field that experts are studying feverishly because not that much is known about what causes autism or the best ways to treat it. This doesn’t mean you should jump at every new claim of a cure, but you should at least stay posted and find out what people are saying and what the latest research shows. If a new development does come along, check the reviews, talk to other parents and doctors, and if everything “checks out”, make it available to your child as soon as possible. You can stay updated by joining online forums, local support groups and reading any publications on autism that you trust. You should never have the attitude that you, or even experts, know all there is to know about autism, as this is far from the case.
When your child is autistic you have to be especially aware of any sensitivities he or she might have, such as to light or loud sounds. In some cases, a certain stimulus can trigger a bad reaction, such as a tantrum. Or the child may just shut down and not respond at all. While some autistic kids are hypersensitive, others are are less sensitive than normal, so they may ignore something right in front of them. You have to pay attention to how your child responds to things like tones of voice, light, motion and even smells. You want to be sure to identify anything that is upsetting so you can avoid having it around. By learning how your child responds to such stimuli, you can prevent many problems and learn better ways of communicating with him or her.
Autistic children seldom respond well to complicated spoken statements or instructions. You’ll find that your child has a certain way of learning, and this is likely to include visual cues and having things demonstrated. You can include verbal instructions too, but they should be short and simple, not drawn out sentences. Autistic kids often have trouble keeping a series of steps in the right order, so it’s best to only give them one step at a time. Very often it’s helpful to combine spoken words with something visual and also a physical demonstration.
In summary, being the parent of an autistic child requires you to learn all about how your child looks at the world. You have to be patient and willing to repeat things over and over, because this is the only way you’ll be able to get through to your child. Above all, don’t ever give up and assume that your child is never going to have a breakthrough, because if you keep trying you may see progress when you least expect it.