Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Autism

Before we delve into the signs and symptoms of autism, let's briefly define what it is ....

Autism is a neurological disorder that in spite of the many years of research into the varying manifestations, the disorder continues to mystify physicians, psychologists, and scientists.

It is the third most common developmental disability, according to the Autism Society of America, more common than Down syndrome.

The truth is that how autistic individuals are affected by this disorder various widely. Autism is one of five disorders that falls under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders. It is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) include:

  • Asperger's Disorder
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
  • Rett's Disorder
  • PDD-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

    Autism is the most common of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, and although it is defined by a certain set of behaviors, two children, both with the same diagnosis, can act completely different from one another and have varying capabilities.

    It is important to understand that every person with autism is an individual, which means as individuals we are all very different with unique personalities and a combination of characteristics.

    Some individuals mildly affected may appear, at least to the layperson, to be a personality disorder, possibly associated with a learning disability. On the other hand, individuals that are severely affected may display self-injurious, aggressive, and unusual behaviors. Again, autism affects different people in different ways and no two autistic children are exactly alike.

    Typically, autism appears during the first three years of life and, as such, we have listed below the early signs and symptoms of autism that helps alert parents that further evaluation is warranted.

    An autistic individual might first appear to be hard of hearing or even mentally retarded. Therefore, it is indeed important to distinguish autism from other health conditions.

    Signs and Symptoms of Autism

    Listed below are some of the early signs and symptoms of autism that parents and Pediatricians look for to alert them that a child needs further evaluation.

    Early Signs and Symptoms of Autism

    The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) have listed these five behaviors that signal further evaluation is warranted:

  • Does not babble or coo by 12 months
  • Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
  • Does not say single words by 16 months
  • Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
  • Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age.

    Signs and Symptoms of Autism

    Autism Society of America Signs and Symptoms of Autism ...

    According to the Autism Society of America persons with autism may exhibit some of the following traits:

  • May exhibit only slight delays in language and greater challenges with social interactions
  • May have difficulty initiating and/or maintaining a conversation
  • Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
  • Difficulty in expressing needs, using gestures or pointing instead of words
  • Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
  • Laughing (and/or crying) for no apparent reason showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
  • Preference to being alone; aloof manner
  • Tantrums
  • Difficulty in mixing with others
  • Not wanting to cuddle or be cuddled
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
  • Sustained odd play
  • Spinning objects
  • Obsessive attachment to objects
  • Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
  • No real fears of danger
  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills
  • Non responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf, although hearing tests in normal range.

    Diagnosis of Autism

    Diagnosing the Signs and Symptoms of Autism ....

    Understanding the signs and symptoms of autism is extremely important because an accurate diagnosis and early identification can provide the basis for building an appropriate and effective educational and treatment program.

    Research indicates that early diagnosis is associated with dramatically better outcomes for individuals with this disorder.

    To be accurately diagnosed with autism a child must be observed by a skilled professional in autism. In addition, it may also include for example, a multidisciplinary team such as a neurologist, a psychologist, a developmental pediatrician, a speech/language therapist, and a learning consultant.

    Currently, there are no medical tests used to diagnose autism. Diagnosis is usually based on careful observation of the individual's communication, behavior, and developmental levels.

    In addition, there are also several screening instruments that have been developed and are used in the diagnosing of autism. These include the following:

    1. Childhood Autism Rating Scale - also known as CARS.

    2. Checklist for Autism in Toddlers - also known as CHAT.

    3. Autism Screening Questionnaire used with children four and older.

    4. Screening Test for Autism in Two-Year Olds.

    Treatment of Autism

    Unfortunately, science has not found a cure for autism. However, there is a wide range of both conventional and complementary therapeutic programs, which focus on replacing dysfunctional behaviors and developing specific skills. These include behavioral and communication therapies, special diets, music therapy, art therapy, animal therapy, speech therapy, sensory integration, occupational therapy as well as many others.

    In addition, vitamins and mineral supplements may improve functioning in autistic people. There are a number of clinical studies which strongly support the use of vitamin and mineral supplementation in the treatment of autism, although there is some disagreement regarding this amongst medical professionals. While opinions may be divided amongst medical professionals, parents have reported marked improvements after a program of nutritional supplements.

    Drug therapy is also used to treat the symptoms of autism. However, there are also natural herbal and homeopathic remedies with far fewer risks and side effects that may be just as effective to help assist in an overall treatment plan.

    In fact, treatments and interventions for autism can be totally overwhelming. Therefore, it is important to investigate and educate yourself on the various treatment approaches, including gathering information concerning various options before proceeding with your child's treatment.

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    Get More Information on Natural Remedies for Autism and other PDDs

    It's important to note that should you be considering natural supplements for autism, please consult your physician first. In addition, never stop taking any prescription medications without your physician's approval.

    We hope this webpage discussing the early signs and symptoms of autism was useful to you.

    To Your Health!

    The Editors

    Understanding the signs and symptoms of autism is extremely important because an accurate diagnosis and early identification can provide the basis for building an appropriate and effective educational and treatment program.

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