Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism is a common developmental disorder that involves problems with social interaction, communication and unusual activities and interests. It is part of a group of conditions known as autism spectrum disorders that usually appear before the age of three. Autism affects four times as many boys than girls.

The symptoms of autism are classified into problems with social interaction, language and behavior. Social interaction symptoms usually present themselves first and can include:

  • Poor eye contact
  • Doesn’t respond to his or her name
  • Focusing on one item and blocks out everything else
  • Unaware of the feelings of others
  • Prefers to play alone

These symptoms can be detected as early as infancy. Language and behavior symptoms can include:

  • Starts talking later than others
  • May speak in a singsong voice or other abnormal rhythm
  • Can’t start a conversation
  • Talks only about a select few topics
  • Performs repetitive movements like rocking, spinning or hand-flapping
  • Resistant to change
  • Constantly moving
  • Sensitive to touch or sound but oblivious to pain

The specific cause of autism is not known, but is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Signs of delayed development usually present themselves by 18 months. It is important to speak to your doctor if you think your child is showing signs of autism. Early treatment is often more effective.

Symptoms of autism usually improve with age and effective treatment methods. Treatment for autism typically includes medication, therapy and behavioral interventions. Your doctor will help you decide which treatment option is best for your child.

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