Autism Spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder, that is mainly neurological. It is characterized by difficulty & challenges in social, behavioral, and communication aspects. Autism is the disorder that comes under the umbrella term of neurodevelopmental disorder. In this article, you will receive detailed information on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Firstly, the meaning, definition, and what is Autism Spectrum Disorder. Secondly, the definition and symptoms & causes of Autistic disorder.
What is ASD?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder. It is characterized by difficulty in communication. In addition to that, challenges in behavioral & social aspects. Impairment in social interaction is one of the most common symptoms.
In other words, children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, have deficits in social interaction. Secondly, signs like very restricted repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities are also seen. Children with ASD are unable to give joint attention. Furthermore, children diagnosed with autism are extremely sensitive to sound. In addition to that, they find it very difficult to adapt to even the slightest change in their surroundings.
Many consider autism to be untreatable. But, mild and moderate cases can be treated to some extent with proper guidance and frequent therapy. Furthermore, the child can learn to do small daily tasks gradually.
Symptoms for Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Repetitive behavior pattern. Children diagnosed with ASD can tend to do the same task repeatedly. For instance, running around in the house. This playful task can go on for a very long time.
- Secondly, they have an extremely restricted pattern in each and every aspect. Even the slightest change is difficult to adapt to. For instance, a child has bread & butter every day for breakfast. But, one fine day, the mother decides to give him jam & bread. This transition might seem very small for anyone. However, for a child diagnosed with ASD, it is a very huge change. Furthermore, there is a possibility that the child will create a tantrum and make a big fuss about it.
Signs Related to Emotions and Connection with Others.
- Children with ASD, try to avoid contact & interaction with others.
- Paying attention to a particular aspect is very challenging.
- Lack of eye contact with anyone. For instance, a lack of eye contact with the primary caregiver is the initial sign of ASD.
- Children diagnosed with ASD, repeat behaviors, sentences, play, and any pattern which they feel like.
- It is challenging for them to indulge in pretend play. For instance, when girls are small, they pretend to cook food, in their play utensils. This playful activity is not there in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
- They have an extreme fear of simple and ordinary things in their surroundings. For instance, it can be an object, event, or even an activity. In other words, a child diagnosed with ASD can be scared of even a toy that is given to them as a present.
Symptoms related to Language, Communication & Interactions.
- Children diagnosed with ASD, have difficulty understanding simple directions. For instance, a mother trying to teach a child how to color within the lines of a drawing. It is challenging for a child with ASD to understand this simple instruction.
- Repetitive speech. In other words, also known as echolalia. This is a particular sign where the child repeats everything. For instance, a parent has told their child Ben to go to his room. Consequently, he would repeat the sentence “Ben, go to your room” repeatedly for a long time. This repetitive speech happens until they find another activity to engage in.
- They find it extremely difficult to express what they feel and want. In early childhood, children learn to use gestures & small words to indicate what they want. For instance, a child would say only the word ‘Milk’, if they wanted to drink milk. This expression through words & small gestures is difficult for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Signs related to Sensory-Motor & Regulatory Aspects.
- Children diagnosed with ASD, have intense difficulty adapting to changes in their surroundings.
- They specifically try to avoid any kind of physical contact. For instance, they don’t like being hugged and touched. There is a possibility for children diagnosed with ASD to get irritated and start crying after such gestures. This sign is very subjective. Therefore, for some children, it is a significant sign, while for some others it is present in mild criteria.
- Children with autistic disorder or even symptoms of ASD face challenges in showing what they want. For instance, they are unable to point at things they want to show you.
- Another sign of autism along with others is poor coordination. They find it difficult to do multiple tasks together.
- Children diagnosed with ASD, engage in self-stimulatory behaviors. For instance, they indulge in activities like headbanging, spinning, rapid hand flapping & movement.
All the symptoms mentioned above are subjective. Each & everyone has his/her own unique characteristics. Moreover, a unique style of coping and understanding their surroundings. Furthermore, processing sensory information varies from child to child. For instance, there are some who are over-reactive to sounds. In other words, a normal sound of even bell can be very loud for them. Therefore, the intense over-reactive behavior to it. While some others are under-reactive to loud sounds. A few children diagnosed with ASD, have amazing visual processing ability (remember scripts & several pages, eye for detailed information). On the other hand, some others have extremely strong auditory memories.
Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Genetic factors are a significant cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Many studies have proven that there is some genetic component that is connected with ASD. There is research that proves & identifies a connection between ASD & oxytocin ( Wermter et al, 2010)
- Neurobiological factors can also result in ASD.
- Environmental factors are another cause of ASD.
Various Sub-type disorders that fall under Autism Spectrum Disorder
Based on the symptoms and signs, ASD has been categorized into the following:
- Asperger’s Syndrome: This is often called the milder version of ASD. Difficulty in coordination in activities & social communication is the key characteristic of this. Although this comes under ASD, the children diagnosed with this disorder lead a normal life. Furthermore, they are bright & can communicate properly after getting proper therapy.
- Autistic Disorder – if the child is diagnosed with symptoms of ASD, then the child falls under this. But, this is subject to following the criteria according to DSM-V.
- Rett Syndrome– it is rare to find these cases. However, it is connected to the defects in the X chromosome. Therefore, girls are more prone to get this. In this disorder, the development is completely normal in the beginning phase. Gradually, there is a decrease in skills. Secondly, loss of communication, interaction & purposeful hand & body movements also starts taking place.
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder– this is another rare disorder. This is similar to Rett Syndrome. However, the characteristic signs of this disorder are as follows. Firstly, the individuals experience loss of skills across a varied range of activities. Secondly, the loss of communication. Lastly, the development of the brain is hindered resulting in loss of skills in motor, social & behavioral aspects as well.
The above disorder were diagnosed & treated differently previously. But, now all these have come under the term of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. It is extremely important to understand the meaning, definition & symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Key-Points for Caretakers Of Children with ASD
- Firstly, don’t stress too much about it. Just research and try to understand what exactly it is. Therefore, research & read about the definition, meaning & what is Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Research on the therapists & doctors related to ASD. Seek professional counseling and help. This will guide you, and help you with how to cope with it. The situation might seem difficult to handle, but with proper guidance & help, you’ll be able to take control.
- Schedule a timetable for yourself. Children diagnosed with ASD are very rigid with their pattern of behavior & activity. Therefore, you must make sure you create a schedule for daily activity & plan your day.
- Join & connect with people who are in the same situation as you. Times can get difficult, and what you might need is just some kind of social support. When you meet people going through the same situation, there is a high probability of sharing new aspects. Furthermore, connecting with others helps you understand what are the different techniques & ways of coping with the situation.
- Last, but not the least, give some time to yourself also. To take care of your son/ daughter you yourself must be emotionally & physically healthy. Self-care is a key aspect. Take a break, keep one day for a spa routine or a hobby once in a while.
Mental health is extremely important. Especially for ASD diagnosed parents Here is Guide to the Myths & Facts of Mental Health. Click here.
Hope this article has been helpful to you. In the article, we have tried to cover the meaning, definition & symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Getting a clear view of the meaning & definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder, is extremely important. For more details related to mental health, click here.
FAQ Regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder – Everything about Autistic Disorder
Firstly, children with ASD have difficulty communicating & socially interacting with others. Secondly, they engage in repetitive patterns of behavior & speech. Thirdly, they avoid eye-contact. In addition to that, it is very difficult for them to adapt to change.
In severe cases, living a normal life is difficult. But, with proper therapy & guidance, they can be taught the basics that are required daily. Mild cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder, the individual can live a relatively normal life, but in some aspects is dependent on the caretaker.
If we think about it, there is no particular cause of autism. The genetic factor is considered one of the major causes. In addition to that, defects & abnormalities in the brain can also result in autism. Secondly, there are many pieces of research that prove psychosocial influences on autism as well.
Editor’s Note | Autism Spectrum Disorder
COVID-19 pandemic has changed all our lives. From one perspective, it has become better & the other perspective has become worse. Furthermore, therapy sessions were stopped. Alternative online therapy sessions have started in the lockdown. For severe cases of ASD, online sessions would not help much. Sessions that require actual professional help, cannot be provided online. For the lockdown scenario, parents are doing as much as they can from home.