Autism

Standard description of Autism.

 

What causes Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The causes of Autism are a controversial topic. What is known is that noone knows for sure!

Research suggests that genetic susceptibility is the major contributing factor to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), however how the genes, and which gene combinations lead to someone suffering from ASD is unknown. Research indicates that it is unlikely that ASD is caused by one factor, rather it is a combination of factors that result in causing ASD. These may include;

  • Genetic Factors. Strong family links between people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. A family member may not have a diagnosis but share traits with the affected individual.
  • Childhood Vaccines. Often symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder have occured after vaccination. Whether this is coincidence or the direct result is hotly debated.
  • Physical Trauma. This may include birth injury.
  • Food Allergies/Metabolic Disorders.
  • Exposure to heavy metals.

A theory popular in the 1950's and 1960's was that poor parenting or a lack of love causes Autism - this certainly does NOT cause Autism.

 

What is known?

  • Autism affects four times as many boys as girls.
  • Autism typically presents within the first three years of life.
  • Although Autism Spectrum Disorders are usually present at birth, they often will not become apparent until the age or 2-3yrs, or even later in the case of Asperger's Disorder.

 

Is there a cure?

There is no known cure for Autism. Many therapies have been proven to assist a child with ASD, by helping changes in ability and behavior, through early intervention. The effects of Autism can vary significantly between children. Not every characteristic of ASD is apparent in each child. Individual characteristics can vary significantly between individuals.

Early diagnosis is extremely important. Research and experience has proven the earlier a child is diagnosed, the sooner they can begin therapies and enroll in early intervention programs, the better the outcomes for the child.

 

Symptoms and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The following are possible indicators that your child is presenting with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Preschool Years

Social Interaction:

  • Not looking directly at other people in a social way
  • Showing little interest in other children or adults
  • Not pointing to things or sharing attention ior interest with others
  • Dislikes or does not seek physical affection e.g. being cuddled
  • May prefer to be alone
  • Aloof manner, doesn't show their feelings often
  • Not responding to their name
  • Reduced use of body language or facial expressions when interacting
  • Difficulty developing relationships with other children

Communication/Language:

  • Constant crying or an unsual absence of crying
  • Delayed language development, this may include:
    • Little or no babble
    • Limited speech - may repeat words and phrases said by others, or from TV/DVDs
    • Difficulty in expressing needs - may use gestures or pointing instead of words
    • Difficulty following simple instructions
  • Delayed development of play activities, particularly imaginative play e.g. (pretending to feed a doll)

Repetitive or restricted interest/behaviours:

  • Resistance to change in routines and/or environment e.g. insists on using a particular plate or bowl, gets upset if taken to a new location.
  • Repetitive use of objects e.g. linging up toys or contunually opening and closing the door on a toy bus rather than pretending to drive it
  • Repetitive body movements e.g. hand-shaking or flapping, rocking, hitting themselves, walking on their toes
  • Obsessive interest in particular toys or objects whilst ignoring other things e.g. turning light switches or power points on and off

Sensory