“A child with autism sees things differently than we do. Perceives things in a different light. Can perceive things in ways we could never imagine”

– Unknown

When it comes to autism there are a lot of misconceptions or wrong definitions of the term. We have met several parents that when they find out their children are diagnosed with autism they are overwhelmed with feelings of despair, sadness, and confusion. This comes along with the fact that there is a lot of stigma around it and there are some incorrect descriptions of what autism is, especially in movies and tv shows.

The same way happened to many of us when we heard the word autism, we just thought that whoever has it was someone with a lot of disabilities and problems and wouldn’t be able to function in the real world. As we learned more about it, we realized that it is not the case. We are not saying that it’s all easy since there are some severe cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges (people with ASD often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills).  ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but is about 4 times more common among boys than among girls. 

Signs, symptoms, and diagnosis.

There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want to change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things.

We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less and live entirely independently.

According to Autism Speaks, several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and attention issues.

Signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3 and typically last throughout a person’s life. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier. Unfortunately, there is no medical test for autism. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. Statistics show that many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older and minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often. This delay means that children with ASD might not get the early help they need, and research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes and healthy development later in life for people with autism.

What causes autism?

The causes of ASD are unknown, but research has found there may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental, biological, and genetic factors.

  • Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop.
  •         Children who have a sibling with ASD are at a higher risk of also having.
  •         Individuals with certain genetic or chromosomal conditions, such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis, can have a greater chance of having.
  •         When taken during pregnancy, the prescription drugs valproic acid and thalidomide have been linked with a higher risk of ASD.
  •         There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASD occurs before, during, and immediately after birth.
  •         Children born to older parents are at greater risk of having ASD.

What do I do if I suspect my child has ASD?

If you think your child might have ASD or you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts, contact your child’s doctor, and share your concerns. Specialists who can do a more in-depth evaluation and make a diagnosis include:

  •         Developmental Pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs)
  •         Child Neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves)
  •         Child Psychologists or Psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind)

It is important to take an early intervention since research shows that it can improve a child’s development.