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LET US KNOW ABOUT AUTISM

Let us take a look at AUTISM, what is AUTISM and what is its identity, what is its diagnosis, at what age it can be almost cured through the right therapy, many people do not even know about AUTISM. Let us tell you in detail what it is:

WHAT IS AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD those acts together to change the most common ways people develop. We still have much to learn about these causes and how they impact people with ASD.

People with ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. There is often nothing about how they look that sets them apart from other people.  The abilities of people with ASD can vary significantly. For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversation skills whereas others may be nonverbal. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others can work and live with little to no support.

ASD begins before the age of 3 years and can last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children show ASD symptoms within the first 12 months of life. In others, symptoms may not show up until 24 months of age or later. Some children with ASD gain new skills and meet developmental milestones until around 18 to 24 months of age, and then they stop gaining new skills or lose the skills they once had.

As children with ASD become adolescents and young adults, they may have difficulties developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers and adults, or understanding what behaviors are expected in school or on the job. They may come to the attention of healthcare providers because they also have conditions such as anxiety, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, which occur more often in people with ASD than in people without ASD.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. These characteristics can make life very challengingIt is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms.

AUTISM spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. It is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms. But for people with ASD, these characteristics can make life very challenging.

LET US KNOW ABOUT AUTISM

SOCIAL COMMUNICATION ANDINTERACTION SKILLS:

Social communication and interaction skills can be challenging for people with ASD.

Examples of social communication and social interaction characteristics related to ASD can include

  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact.
  • Does not respond to name by 9 months of age.
  • Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age.
  • Does not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age.
  • Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age (for example, does not wave goodbye)
  • Does not share interests with others by 15 months of age (for example, shows you an object that they like)
  • Does not point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age.
  • Does not notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age.
  • Does not notice other children and join them in play by 36 months of age.
  • Does not pretend to be something else, like a teacher or superhero, during play by 48 months of age.
  • Does not sing, dance, or act for you by 60 months of age.

 

RESTRICTED OR REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS OR INTERESTS:

People with ASD have behaviors or interests that can seem unusual. These behaviors or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by problems with social communication and interaction only.

Examples of restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests related to ASD can include

  • Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (called echolalia)
  • Plays with toys the same way every time
  • Is focused on parts of objects (for example, wheels)
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Must follow certain routines
  • Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
  • Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS:

Most people with ASD have other related characteristics. These might include

  • Delayed language skills
  • Delayed movement skills
  • Delayed cognitive or learning skills
  • Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorder
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits
  • Gastrointestinal issues (for example, constipation)
  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions
  • Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry
  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected

 

DIAGNOSIS:

Diagnosing ASD can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until they are much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay means that people with ASD might not get the early help they need.

SCEENING AND DIAGNOSIS OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER:

Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child’s developmental history and behavior to make a diagnosis.

ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay means that people with ASD might not get the early help they need.

Diagnosing children with ASD as early as possible is important to make sure children receive the services and supports they need to reach their full potential .There are several steps in this process.

 

DEVELOPMENTAL MONITORING:

Developmental monitoring is an active, ongoing process of watching a child grow and encouraging conversations between parents and providers about a child’s skills and abilities. Developmental monitoring involves observing how your child grows and whether your child meets the typical developmental milestones, or skills that most children reach by a certain age, in playing, learning, speaking, behaving, and moving.

Parents, grandparents, early childhood education providers, and other caregivers can participate in developmental monitoring. NKS’ Learn the Signs. Act Early. Program has developed free materials, including NKS’s Milestone, to help parents and providers work together to monitor your child’s development and know when there might be a concern and if more screening is needed. You can use a brief checklist of milestones to see how your child is developing. If you notice that your child is not meeting milestones, talk with your doctor or nurse about your concerns and ask about developmental screening. Learn more about NKS Milestone, milestone checklists, and other parent materials.

When you take your child to a well visit, your doctor or nurse will also do developmental monitoring. The doctor or nurse might ask you questions about your child’s development or will talk and play with your child to see if they are developing and meeting milestones.

Your doctor or nurse may also ask about your child’s family history. Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know about any conditions that your child’s family members have, including ASD, learning disorders, intellectual disability, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

DEVELOPMENT SCREENING:

Developmental screening takes a closer look at how your child is developing.

Developmental screening is more formal than developmental monitoring. It is a regular part of some well-child visits even if there is not a known concern.

The National Kid’s School (NKS) recommends developmental and behavioral screening for all children during regular well-child visits at these ages:

  • 9 months
  • 18 months
  • 30 months

In addition, AAP recommends that all children be screened specifically for ASD during regular well-child visits at these ages:

  • 18 months
  • 24 months

Screening questionnaires and checklists are based on research that compares your child to other children of the same age. Questions may ask about language, movement, and thinking skills, as a well as behaviors and emotions. Developmental screening can be done by a doctor or nurse, or other professionals in healthcare, community, or school settings. Your doctor may ask you to complete a questionnaire as part of the screening process. Screening at times other than the recommended ages should be done if you or your doctors have a concern.  Additional screening should also be done if a child is at high risk for ASD (for example, having a sibling or other family member with ASD) or if behaviors sometimes associated with ASD are present. If your child’s healthcare provider does not periodically check your child with a developmental screening test, you can ask that it be done.

DEVELOPMENTAL DIAGNOSIS:

A brief test using a screening tool does not provide a diagnosis, but it can indicate whether a child is on the right development track or if a specialist should take a closer look. If the screening tool identifies an area of concern, a formal developmental evaluation may be needed. This formal evaluation is a more in-depth look at a child’s development and is usually done by a trained specialist such as a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or other specialist. The specialist may observe the child give the child a structured test, ask the parents or caregivers questions, or ask them to fill out questionnaires. The results of this formal evaluation highlight your child’s strengths and challenges and can inform whether they meet criteria for a developmental diagnosis.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately; autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperser syndrome. Your doctor or other healthcare provider can help you understand and navigate the diagnostic process.

The results of a formal developmental evaluation can also inform whether your child needs early intervention services. In some cases, the specialist might recommend genetic counseling and testing for your child.

TREATMENT:

Current treatments for ASD seek to reduce symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. ASD affects each person differently, meaning that people with ASD have unique strengths and challenges and different treatment needs. Treatment plans usually involve multiple professionals and are catered to the individual.

TREATMENT AND INTERVENTION SERVICES FOR AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER:

Current treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) seek to reduce symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. ASD affects each person differently, meaning that people with ASD have unique strengths and challenges and different treatment needs. Therefore, treatment plans usually involve multiple professionals and are catered toward the individual.

Treatments can be given in education, health, community, or home settings, or a combination of settings. It is important that providers communicate with each other and the person with ASD and their family to ensure that treatment goals and progress are meeting expectations.

As individuals with ASD exit from high school and grow into adulthood, additional services can help improve health and daily functioning, and facilitate social and community engagement. For some, supports to continue education, complete job training, find employment, and secure housing and transportation may be needed.

TYPES OF TREATMENTS:

There are many types of treatments available. These treatments generally can be broken down into the following categories, although some treatments involve more than one approach:

 

BEHAVIORAL APPROACHES:

Behavioral approaches focus on changing behaviors by understanding what happens before and after the behavior. Behavioral approaches have the most evidence for treating symptoms of ASD. They have become widely accepted among educators and healthcare professionals and are used in many schools and treatment clinics. A notable behavioral treatment for people with ASD is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA encourages desired behaviors and discourages undesired behaviors to improve a variety of skills. Progress is tracked and measured.

Two ABA teaching styles are Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Pivotal Response Training (PRT).

  • DTT uses step-by-step instructions to teach a desired behavior or response. Lessons are broken down into their simplest parts, and desired answers and behaviors are rewarded. Undesired answers and behaviors are ignored.
  • PRT takes place in a natural setting rather than clinic setting. The goal of PRT is to improve a few “pivotal skills” that will help the person learn many other skills. One example of a pivotal skill is to initiate communication with others.

DEVELOPMENTAL APPROACHES:

 

Developmental approaches focus on improving specific developmental skills, such as language skills or physical skills, or a broader range of interconnected developmental abilities. Developmental approaches are often combined with behavioral approaches.

The most common developmental therapy for people with ASD is Speech and Language Therapy. Speech and Language Therapy helps to improve the person’s understanding and use of speech and language. Some people with ASD communicate verbally. Others may communicate through the use of signs, gestures, pictures, or an electronic communication device.

Occupational Therapy teaches skills that help the person live as independently as possible. Skills may include dressing, eating, bathing, and relating to people. Occupational therapy can also include:

  • Sensory Integration Therapy to help improve responses to sensory input that may be restrictive or overwhelming.
  • Physical Therapy can help improve physical skills, such as fine movements of the fingers or larger movements of the trunk and body.

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a broad developmental approach based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. It is used with children 12-48 months of age. Parents and therapists use play, social exchanges, and shared attention in natural settings to improve language, social, and learning skills.

EDUCATIONAL APPROACHES:

Educational treatments are given in a classroom setting. One type of educational approach is the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children (TEACCH) approach. TEACCH is based on the idea that people with autism thrive on consistency and visual learning. It provides teachers with ways to adjust the classroom structure and improve academic and other outcomes. For example, daily routines can be written or drawn and placed in clear sight. Boundaries can be set around learning stations. Verbal instructions can be complimented with visual instructions or physical demonstrations.

SOCIAL-RELATIONAL APPROACHES:

Social-relational treatments focus on improving social skills and building emotional bonds. Some social-relational approaches involve parents or peer mentors.

  • The Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based model (also called “Floor time”) encourages parents and therapists to follow the interests of the individual to expand opportunities for communication.
  • The Relationship Development Intervention(RDI) model involves activities that increase motivation, interest, and abilities to participate in shared social interactions.
  • Social Storiesprovide simple descriptions of what to expect in a social situation.
  • Social Skills Groupsprovide opportunities for people with ASD to practice social skills in a structured environment.

PHARMALOGICAL APPROACHES:

 

There are no medications that treat the core symptoms of ASD. Some medications treat co-occurring symptoms that can help people with ASD function better. For example, medication might help manage high energy levels, inability to focus, or self-harming behavior, such as head banging or hand biting. Medication can also help manage co-occurring psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression, in addition to medical conditions such as seizures, sleep problems, or stomach or other gastrointestinal problems.

It is important to work with a doctor who has experience in treating people with ASD when considering the use of medication. This applies to both prescription medication and over-the-counter medication. Individuals, families, and doctors must work together to monitor progress and reactions to be sure that negative side effects of the medication do not outweigh the benefits.

PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACHES:

Psychological approaches can help people with ASD cope with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) is one psychological approach that focuses on learning the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. During CBT, a therapist and the individual work together to identify goals and then change how the person thinks about a situation to change how they react to the situation.

 

RISK FACTORS:

 

There is not just one cause of ASD. There are many different factors that have been identified that may make a child more likely to have ASD, including environmental, biologic, and genetic factors.

Although we know little about specific causes, the available evidence suggests that the following may put children at greater risk for developing ASD:

  • Having a sibling with ASD
  • Having certain genetic or chromosomal conditions, such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis
  • Experiencing complications at birth
  • Being born to older parents

 

 

HOW OFTEN ASD OCCURS:

CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been estimating the number of 8-year-old children with ASD in the United States since 2000.

ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. It is more than 4 times more common among boys than among girls.

IF YOU’RE CONCERNED:

As a parent, you already have what it takes to help your young child learn and grow. CDC has developed materials to help you track your child’s developmental milestones and share that progress, or any concerns, with your child’s doctor at every check-up.

Contact your child’s doctor if you think your child might have ASD or if you have any other concerns about the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts.

If you are still concerned, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation of your child. Specialists who can do a more in-depth evaluation and make a diagnosis include

  • Developmental pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs)
  • Child neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves)
  • Child psychologists or psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind)

At the same time, call your state’s public early childhood system to request a free evaluation, sometimes called a Child Find evaluation, to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services.  You do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.

Where to call for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:

  • If your child is not yet 3 years old, contact your local early intervention system.
  • You can find the right contact information for your state by calling the assistance center NKS.
  • Or visit the nationalkidsschool.org.in
  • If your child is 3 years old or older, contact your local public school system.
  • Even if your child is not yet old enough for kids school (NKS) or enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.
  • If you’re not sure who to contact, call the NKS at 8585994455.
  • Or visit the nationalkidsschool.org.in

Research shows that early intervention services can greatly improve a child’s development. In order to make sure your child reaches their full potential, it is very important to receive services as soon as possible.

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