Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that affects how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing social interaction and communication problems. The disorder is characterized by limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. Autism spectrum disorder typically begins in early childhood and eventually affects one’s functioning in society, including school and work. Most of the time, children show symptoms of San Diego autism in the first year. Some children show normal development within the first year and then undergo a regression period between 18 and 24 months. There is no cure for autism, but intensive early treatment makes a significant difference in the lives of many children.
What causes autism?
Autism spectrum disorder has no exact cause, but genetics and environment may play a role. Some genes affect brain development and may also determine the severity of symptoms. For some children, autism spectrum disorder is associated with a genetic condition like Rett syndrome. For others, mutations or genetic changes increase their risk of autism.
Symptoms of autism
During early infancy, some children show signs of autism, such as reduced eye contact, indifference to caregivers, or lack of response to their names. Other children may suddenly become withdrawn, aggressive, or lose the language skills they acquired during the first few months or years of life. These signs are usually seen by age 2. Children with autism have unique behavior patterns, and the severity level also varies – from low to high.
Some children with autism show signs of lower-than-normal intelligence, including difficulty learning. Others with autism spectrum disorder have normal to high intelligence – they learn quickly but have challenges communicating and applying what they know in everyday life. They may also have problems adjusting to social situations.
Each child’s unique mixture of symptoms can make it difficult to determine the severity. But generally, the severity is based on the level of impairments and how they affect a child’s function.
When should I seek medical help?
Babies develop at their own pace and not necessarily according to the timelines in some parenting books. However, children with autism often show some signs of delayed development before they are two. It is best to discuss your concerns with your doctor if you are worried about your child’s development or if you suspect they may have autism spectrum disorder.
Autism symptoms can also be linked with other developmental disorders. As previously mentioned, signs of autism often appear early in development when there are obvious delays in language skills and social interactions. Developmental tests can help your doctor identify if your child has delays in language, cognitive and social skills. Your doctor may recommend developmental tests if your child does not:
- Mimic sounds or facial expressions by nine months
- Respond with a happy face such as a smile
- Utter a single word in 16 months
- Coo by 12 months
Your child may also need a developmental test if they lose language or social skills at any age.
If you suspect your child has autism, book an appointment with your specialist for diagnosis and early treatment to maximize your child’s function.