Category Archives: autism

Can you recognize the signs of Autism?

Earlier this year the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States released new data on Autism rates in children. And it’s cause for concern.

1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys) are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

With those kinds of statistics, caregivers and parents need to know more about it.

So what does ASD look like?

The word ‘autism’ stems from the Greek word autos, meaning self.  So it’s no coincidence that the most notable characteristics of ASD are socially withdrawn behaviours and the appearance self-absorption. Children with Autism tend to withdraw from others and prefer to be alone.

Children with ASDs avoid eye contact giving the appearance of ignoring the people around them. They often have delayed speech acquisition and seem to be unaware of body language or non-verbal cues such as the facial expressions or gestures of others. A child with ASD often demonstrates a lack of empathy and does not point to draw your attention to an object.

Only some children with ASD demonstrate the stereotypical behaviour of repeating words they’ve heard, rather than conversing with others. They may display unusual, repetitive behaviours – all of which can impair their social interaction and relationships with others.

Children with ASD have a narrow range of interests. They do not engage in pretend play, or play with others. Instead they might obsess over an object, or maintaining the order of a group of objects by lining them up. They may be overly sensitive to sounds and changes in their routines or environment. Children with ASD tend to show their stress from routine changes and transitions through behaviours of non-compliance and tantrums.

While the prevalence of ASDs appear to be increasing, it is likely due to Autism being more commonly recognized within the full spectrum of disorders. The very definition of Autism is currently under scrutiny. A panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association is proposing changes to the criteria for assessment that could exclude some of the milder forms of Autism such as Asperger’s Disorder, around the world.

So much remains to be understood about Autism, particularly its causes. There has been great debate of whether ASD stems from genetics or environmental conditions. Most recently, conflicting studies in the U.S. have indicated the causes to be from gene mutations that are likely passed on by the father, delayed parenthood, and even obesity in pregnant women.

Although we don’t fully understand the cause(s) of ASD, there are effective treatments to improve and even eliminate the symptoms of Autism now. Early intervention and treatment is key for a child with ASD’s success. Medical treatments, communication and sensory therapies, educational interventions and holistic approaches are just some of the recognized ways of managing symptoms of ASD.

If you think a child you know might have ASD, it’s important to talk to their parents about it and to seek help.

For more information, check out these Canadian organizations:

www.autismcanada.org

www.autismsocietycanada.ca

Thanks for reading,

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