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HEALTH: All you need to know about autism.

Autism also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complicated condition that includes problems with communication and behavior. It can involve a wide range of symptoms and skills. ASD can be a minor problem or a disability that needs full time care in a special facility.

People with autism might have problems with learning. Their skills might develop unevenly. For example, they could have trouble communicating but be unusually good at art, music, math or memory. Because of this they might do well on tests of analysis or problem solving.

Autism signs and symptoms.

Symptoms of autism usually appear before the age of three in children. Some people show signs from birth. The symptoms include:

1. A lack of eye contact.

2. Not looking or listening to other people.

3. A narrow range of interests or intense interest in some topics.

4. High sensitivity to sound, touches or sight that seem ordinary to people.

5. Talking in a robotic voice or song voice.

6. Trouble adapting to changes in routine.

Some children experience seizures.

Causes of autism.

The exact cause of ASD is unknown. The most current study shows that there is no single cause.

Some of the suspected risk factors for autism include:

1. Having an immediate family member with autism.

2. Being born to older parents.

3. Genetic mutation.

4. Low birth weight

5. Metabolic imbalances.

6. Fetal exposure to the medication valproic acid and thalidomide.

Diagnosis of autism.

Developmental Monitoring.

Developmental monitoring observes how your child grows and changes over time and whether your child meets the typical development milestones in playing, learning, speaking, behaving and moving. Parents, grandparents and other care givers a participate in developmental monitoring.

Developmental screening.

This takes a closer look at how your child is developing. Your child will get brief test, or you will complete a questionnaire about your child. The tools used for developmental and behavioral screening are formal questionnaire or checklists based on research that ask questions about a child’s development including language and movement. Developmental screening is more formal than developmental monitoring.

Comprehensive Developmental Evaluation.

A brief test using a screening tool does not provide a diagnosis but indicates if a child is on the right development track or if a specialist should take a closer look. This comprehensive developmental evaluation is a more in depth look at a child’s development usually done by a trained specialist egg development pediatrician, speech language pathologist or other specialist.

Treatment of autism.

No cure exists for autism spectrum disorder and there is no cure for autism and there is no one size fits all treatment. The goal of treatment is to maximize your child’s ability to function by reducing autism symptoms and supporting development and learning. Treatment options include:

1. Behavior and communication therapies.

Many programs address the range of social, language and behavioral difficulties associated with autism. Some programs focus on reducing problem behaviors and teaching new skills. Others focus on teaching children how to act in social situations or communicate better with others.

2. Educational therapies.

Children with autism often respond well to highly structure educational programs. Successful programs typically include a team of specialists and a variety of activities to improve social skills, communication and behavior.

3. Family therapies.

Parents and other family members can learn how to play and interact with their children in ways that promote social interaction skills, manage problem behaviors and teach daily living skills and communication.

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