Things you need to know about autism

Parents are unable to recognize and understand the early symptoms of autism. They get confused and worried as to what is happening to their child. Especially when children get these symptoms at an early age, parents are completely confused when the baby does not babble or resist being held or cared for. Basically the severity of autism can vary widely when it comes to the neurological disorder. The symptoms typically appear at the age of three and they have problems in speaking or learning anything. But the due to the tireless efforts of doctors and parents, the public awareness has grown since its first identification in 1943. This article is to help the parents in order to recognize the symptoms and have a better understanding about the disease.

1. It is more common now

This disorder is more common today rather than in the1980’s. Studies show that among 1000 children, at least 3 of them are autistic. In California, the state’s social service program has shown a double increase in the number of kids with autism between the years 1998 and 2002 and it surpassed the cases of Down syndrome, cancer in childhood and diabetes among children. This might seem like an epidemic but it is more due to increase in reporting and improved diagnosis. Now, the definition of autism has changed in order to include a wider spectrum of the problems with social interactions and communications. Ten years ago, children with symptoms of autism were not reported as they were mild. Apart from these reasons, there is a research going on in order to understand if there were any environmental factors affecting the rise of the disease.

2. Early diagnosis possible now

There were no lab tests for autism; it was mainly based on behavior signs. They did not diagnose a child as autistic till the symptoms became clearer. Now, the average age for diagnosis is 3 1/2 years. One of the reasons for this is that pediatricians are more aware of the symptoms now. They are capable of identifying the symptoms at an early age based on some disruption in development like not babbling or the kid not able to point. Most of the autistic kids show symptoms from their first birthday. Doctors are thus able to intervene when the kid’s brain is still immature and can change the behavior.

3. Genetic disorders

Once it was believed that autism is due to improper parenting. But, now the scientists believe that it is a genetic disorder rather than a psychological one. If the first born is autistic, then there are 5-10% chances that the next born will also be autistic. When it comes to identical twins, the chances that both are born autistic are 60%. Although, completely autistic people do not have children, but even a relative who is either has mild symptoms or complete autistic disorder called Asperser’s Syndrome, can cause the child to have the symptoms. It has been found that autism is a result of multiple genes interacting with each other. The severity of the disorder can be explained due to this. These genes cause the kid’s brain to develop in an abnormal fashion which makes him susceptible to unexplained triggers. Some specialists say that it could be both genetic and environmental.

4. No scientific connection between autism and vaccines

Parents are confused sometimes and link autism to vaccines. This is so because; some of the kids developed their first symptoms after the MMR vaccines. But, there is no scientific evidence that proves it. This is nothing more than a coincidence as the MMR vaccine is given when the kid is between 12-15 months and this is also the time when the symptoms get noticeable. In autism, up to 40% of the kids experience regression when they are of 12-15 months. They develop normally, but the social and communication skills are lost. Sometimes, in order to keep the parents at ease, the pediatricians delay the vaccine till 21 to 24 months. But, this could also be harmful as the kids are unprotected in their growing age.

5. The sign is the huge head size

It has been recently found that the brain of an autistic kid develops differently even at the early stage. The researchers have found that the kid is born with normal head size but as the kid starts growing, the head size grows and is larger to around 6-14 months. People with severe autism, had severely accelerated brain growth in their infancy. But, this is not the only physical symptom for autism. Any child can have a comparatively large heads. Just make sure the kid has normal behavior milestone.

6. Early treatment is very necessary

Although there is no cure for this disorder, therapy helps the kid to cultivate a range of skills- this could be as simple as giving a hug or to make an eye contact. Studies have proved and experts recommend that kids with autism must have minimum of 25 hours of therapy in a week. Since, children with autism have different abilities and behavior; it is always the best to work on the strengths of each kid through a game. The therapy helps to lessen the severity of the symptoms. Studies have shown that with therapy, 80% of the kids with autism have some speech, by the time they are 9 and in 20 years, they could talk normally. The treatment also helps in raising the IQ by about 20 points, to almost regular level. The main challenge is the lack of trained therapists who can assist the children in schools for autism. The federal government has announced a 10-year plan to provide the adequate services to address this issue.

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