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Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition causing issues with behavior and communication. Associated with several symptoms and skills, it can be a minor issue or a complicated disability requiring full-time care. Children with autism have a neurodevelopmental disability affecting their communication, behavioral, and social skills. Most of the children with autism can sit, crawl, and walk on time. So, you might not notice any developmental delay and child psychology issues until they turn 1. However, there are some early signs that you can look out for in your children: 1. Social differences Makes little to no eye contact Doesn’t respond to facial expressions Can’t bring objects to show to a parent Can’t give appropriate facial expressions Can’t point at something Unable to perceive other people’s expressions Not showing empathy Unable or uninterested in making friends

2. Communication Differences Can’t say anything by 16 months of age Doesn’t share or point at things Repeats without understanding anything Doesn’t respond to their name Mixes up pronouns Doesn’t want to communicate Has a good rote memory Loses social and language milestones between 15 and 24 months of age 3. Behavioral Differences Spines, sways, rocks, walk on toes, twirls fingers, and flap hands Likes orders, rituals, and routines Has difficulty in transitioning from one activity to another Doesn’t feel pain Play with a part of a toy Obsessed with unusual activities Can be insensitive or oversensitive to smells, lights, touch, sounds, and textures Unusual gaze or vision

As children grow, their autism will develop. This will lead to new developmental, speech, language, learning, behavioral issues. Rainbow Children’s Hospital strongly recommends early intervention to help children with Autism. In some cases, children make so much improvement with intervention, that they don’t meet the criteria for ASD. It is important to identify the symptoms early so that the intervention program can be started soon. Since the early 1990s, the number of children diagnosed with autism has significantly increased. Today, it affects 1 in 59 children. This increase is caused by the following factors: Awareness of ASD More screening of ASD Changes in the definition and diagnosis of ASD

In 2013, there was a change in the diagnostic criteria of ASD. Earlier, only the most severe autism symptoms were identified. Now, even children with mild symptoms are identified and helped which has helped improve child care. There were some conditions that were diagnosed separately under ‘pervasive developmental disorders’ including: Asperger syndrome Pervasive developmental disorder Disintegrative disorder FAQs

1. What are the diagnostic tests for autism? Unfortunately, there is no blood test for diagnosing ASD. The only way to diagnose autism is through behaviors. To be diagnosed as autistic, a person should display symptoms of Autism like issues with communication, repetitive and restrictive behaviors, and social interaction.

2. What can be the cause of my child’s autism? Currently, it is not possible to determine the exact cause of autism. However, research has shown that there are some genetic syndromes that are associated with the disorder like fragile X syndrome and Rett syndrome. In about 25% of the cases, a genetic cause was identified. In the remaining 75%, there was a complicated combination of genetics and environmental influences. However, there is no evidence that certain immunization practices, chemicals in the environment, and dietary differences can lead to autism.

3. If my child’s autism is because of genetics, how can you tell which side of the family it came from? You will need the help of a medical geneticist for this. After the child specialist a comprehensive study of your family history and your child’s physical exam, he or she will take a blood test or urine test. If they find a genetic cause, they will need further genetic testing to see if the child inherited the mutation from one, neither or both parents.

4. What is the best treatment for my child’s autism? The best way of treating autism is through early intensive behavioral intervention. On the basis of the applied behavioral analysis, an autism treatment plan will be created aimed at improving language, behavior, and function. There are some drugs like aripiprazole and risperidone that improve challenging behaviors including aggression, hyperactivity, emotional distress, and self-injury. However, they won’t do anything for your child’s communication and social skills. Another part of the intervention program is cognitive behavioral therapy and parent training for improving social skills, language use, communication, and managing challenging behaviors. A child psychiatrist in Bangalore can assist with the intervention program.

Dr. Somasekhara Naraganti

Child Psychologist

Rainbow Children's Hospital, Banjara Hills