What Is Autism?
Autism is a brain or developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs during the first three years of their child’s life. The signs are evident among young children, and the characteristics of the disorder are from mild to severe. Some people can win over their world, some are born with extraordinary abilities, while few others are late talkers or simple struggle to speak. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) affect about one child in 59, striking nearly four times as many boys as girls.
Signs of Autism
Before the age of three, careful caretakers and observers can see signs of autism among young children. In some case, children develop normally until they are one to two years old and then stop or lose skills. Signs of an ASD can include:
- Getting upset by minor changes
- Avoiding eye contact or physical touch
- Repeating words or phrases (echolalia)
- Delays in learning to talk
- Repeated motions (rocking or spinning)
- It should be noted that these signs may occur in children without ASDs, too.
Early Warning Signs: First Year
Man is a social animal and babies are no exception. They are highly social from very early age, so it’s possible to detect signs of autism in how babies interact with their world. At this age, a child with an ASD may:
- Do not smile or respond to social gestures from others
- No eye contact
- No pointing or babbling by the age of one
- No reaction to mother’s voice
- Not responding to his own name
Babies who do not have autism can have these behaviors, too, but it’s best to contact your doctor right away with any concerns.
Early Warning Signs: Year Two
The signs of autism become more evident in a child’s second year. Normally children start to explore their surroundings and try pronouncing their first words, the autistic kids stay aloof and detached from the surrounding. Few signs of autism at this age include:
- Do not show any interest if the adult points to any object
- No uttering of two-word phrases by age 2
- No uttering of an single word by 16 months
- Loss of language skills
- No pretend games by 18 months
Other Signs and Symptoms
At times, autistic people suffer from physical problems like sleep issues. Digestion, constipation, etc. Agility is a task for them as they face poor coordination of the large muscles used for running and climbing, or the smaller muscles of the hand. About a third of people with autism also have seizures.
How Does Autism Affect the Brain?
Autism directly affects those parts of the brain that control body movements, communication and emotions. Due to the problems with brain growth some autistic kids have unusually large heads and brains. Genetics play a vital role in developmental delays. Inherited abnormal genes have a direct connection to poor functions in some parts of the brain. Researchers are running brain scans in hope to diagnose autism pre-birth.