News on Wellness

Autism Awareness Month – What we know about autism spectrum disorder?


April marks National Autism Awareness Month. Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain and affects 1 in 88 children. That number is higher in boys, with about one of 54 affected by autism.
People with autism show three types of symptoms:

  • Problems with social interaction.
  • Problems with verbal and nonverbal communication and imagination.
  • Unusual or severely limited interests and activities.

Researchers are not sure what causes autism — now known formally as pervasive developmental disorder — but have dispelled the myth that poor parenting causes the condition. In most cases, children with autism begin to show signs of the disorder during their first three years. Autism can range in severity from a mild disorder to a serious condition marked by repeated unusual, self-injurious behavior. Signs of autism in children include:

  • Failure to respond when people call to them.
  • Reluctance to look at other people.
  • Difficulty reading the tone of voice or facial expressions of someone speaking to them
  • Failure to respond to other’s emotionsLack of awareness of other’s feelings toward them or of the negative impact of their behavior on others.
  • Repetitive motions, such as hair twirling or rocking.
  • Self-injurious behavior, such as head-banging.
  • Delayed speech.
  • Unusual responses to sound, touch or other sensory stimulation, including reduced sensitivity to pain but extraordinary sensitivity to other sensations.

If you are concerned that your child may be autistic, talk to his or her doctor. It is extremely important to have your child’s hearing checked, as symptoms of autism and hearing problems can be confused. Also, remember that the signs of autism are similar to those of other disorders. If your child is diagnosed with autism, his or her health care provider can devise therapies to manage the symptoms. Although these therapies do not cure autism, they can lead to substantial improvements in managing symptoms.

Autistic behavior

Considerations: Autistic behavior is comprised of absent or poorly developed verbal and nonverbal communication skills, abnormal socialization (lack of need for socialization), social withdrawal, inability to make friends, repetitive body movements, ritualistic behavior, lack of eye contact, and various speech pattern abnormalities. Several infectious and neurological diseases can produce symptoms mimicking autism .

Common Causes:

  • infantile autism
  • deafness
  • mental retardation
  • metabolic degenerative CNS disorders

Note: There may be other causes of autistic behavior. This list is not all inclusive, and the causes are not presented in order of likelihood. The causes of this symptom can include unlikely diseases and medications. Furthermore, the causes may vary based on age and gender of the affected person, as well as on the specific characteristics of the symptom such as quality, time course, aggravating factors, relieving factors, and associated complaints. Use the Symptom Analysis option to explore the possible explanations for autistic behavior, occurring alone or in combination with other problems.

Home Care: Home care depends on the cause of the behavior. The child’s safety needs must always be considered.

Call Your Healthcare Provider If:

  • your child exhibits autistic behavior, and the child is not known to be autistic.

What to expect at your health care provider’s office: The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed. Medical history questions documenting autistic behavior in detail may include:

  • time pattern
    • When did you first notice this behavior?
    • Is it a new behavior for this child?
    • Does the child consistently behave in this manner, or does the behavior come and go?
    • Does the behavior seem to be related to any event that you’ve noticed?
  • quality
    • What specific behaviors have you noticed?
    • Have you noticed any pattern to the behavior?
  • family history
    • Has any family member been diagnosed with autism ?
  • other
    • What other symptoms are also present?

The physical examination may include a complete examination of the nervous system. A psychological evaluation may be recommended. If a physical cause is suspected, diagnostic tests may be performed including laboratory tests, X-rays, and others. The specific tests will depend on the suspected cause. After seeing your health care provider: You may want to add a diagnosis related to autistic behavior to your personal medical record.

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