Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 1 in 59 children. Today’s episode is for all those parents who are worried about the development of their child.
Have you noticed your little boy is not doing many things that other kids of his age are? This is a very normal phenomenon because every child is different and so is their pace of catching up on things. But it can also be an indicator of a developmental disorder.
That brings us to the topic for today- Autism spectrum disorders.
Catching autism early makes a huge difference. By recognizing the early signs and symptoms, you can get your child the help they need to learn, grow, and thrive.
To discuss more on Autism we have an expert guest with us, Dr Farah Adam who is a family physician and a mother of 2 based in Bangalore. She is the author of the book Newborns and New Moms. Taking inspiration from her personal struggles as a first-time mother, Dr Farah embarked on her journey to writing a book that aims at mentally preparing the urban Indian woman for the realities of postpartum. Her son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and a ½ and today she is here to share her struggles with us, both as a parent and an expert
Autistic today. Genius tomorrow.1 in 10 Autistic kids exhibit “Savant Syndrome” where they excel at one particular thing. it could be art, maths, music, etc.
According to the CDC Centre for disease control Atlanta, 1 in 59 children are estimated to have autism.
Autism spectrum disorder is a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect the child’s social interaction, speech and non-verbal communication. These children also show characteristic repetitive/restricted behaviours.
ASD is usually diagnosed in 2 to 3 years of age. However more obvious signs can present in babies too.
The spectrum of autism and What does being on the spectrum mean?
Children of ASD show a wide variety of symptoms in different severities. That’s the reason why this group of developmental disorders is called a spectrum. For eg. a child with ASD might have repetitive behaviour, like the pill-rolling movement of his fingers, or snapping. But another kid on the spectrum might shoe repetitive behaviour in the form of head-banging the severity of which is huge.
Autism is not a single disorder but a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. How to know if ur child has Autism?
Many cases remain undiagnosed until the age of adulthood. These are the cases representing the rate of underdiagnosis and unawareness about autism in our society.
Autism is mostly diagnosed at the age of 2 to 3 years old and before that, but like i said, it can remain undiagnosewd uptil adulthood. So if you are a parent of a baby or toddler that’s when you should be keeping the red flag signs of ASD in the back of your mind.
The following disorders fall into the category of ASD
- Aspergers syndrome
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified
As a parent coming across such terms might be daunting, but here are the common characteristic behaviours and symptoms that most children with ASD exhibit.
Signs and symptoms of Autism in Babies
Before you start questioning your childss behaviour always remember that not all children with ASD will exhibit similar symptoms. The symtpoms as well as their severity can vary to a larger extent.
- The child doesn’t keep eye contact or makes very little eye contact
- He won’t respond to a parent’s smile or other facial expressions
- He might not look at objects or events a parent is looking at or pointing to
- Pointing to objects or events to get a parent to look at them is absent
- He doesn’t bring objects of personal interest to show to a parent
- Might often have inappropriate facial expressions
- He might be unable to perceive what others might be thinking or feeling by looking at their facial expressions
- Doesn’t show concern (empathy) for others
- He is unable to make friends or is uninterested in making friends
Social interaction and communication problems:
- Having unusual speech patterns such as a Robot-like tone
- Difficulty in understanding social cues like eye contact and facial expressions
- Difficulties in maintaining conversation
- Not responding to their name when called out
- Trouble socialising and making friends
- Reduced understanding and interpretation of emotions and sharing of interests
Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests or activities:
- Rocking side to side
- Playing with toys in an uncommon way like lining up or arranging toys or objects in organised ways
- Speaking in a unique way
- Need for a predictable routine or structure
- Becoming obsessed with a topic or thing so much that they stay busy with it, all day like cars, train timetables, or planes
- Experiencing the sensory stimuli in their surrounding, in an unusual or extreme way (such as indifference to pain/temperature, excessive smelling/touching of objects, fascination with lights and movement, being overwhelmed with loud noises, etc)
Parents trust your instincts
If anything doesnt seem right or seems odd like the way your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, moves, and it concerns you then talk with your pediatrician right away and bring it to his notice.
How to Distinguish a Child with Autism from Other Typically-Developing Children:
By 12 Months
- Not responding to his/her name
- A child with ASD might not turn to look, even after his name is repeated several times, but will respond to other sounds.
By 18 Months
- Not playing “pretend” games
- A normal child with delayed speech skills will point, gesture, or use facial expressions to make up for her lack of talking so that he can communicate his needs but
- A child with ASD might make no attempt to compensate for delayed speech. He might limit speech to echoing what is heard on TV or what she just heard.
By 24 Months
- A child with typical development brings a toy to show his mummy and shares his happiness from it with her. It is depicted by the cheer and glee on the child’s face.
- A child with ASD might bring a bottle of bubbles to open, but he does not look at his mummy’s face or share in the pleasure of playing together.
Cause of Autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder has no single known cause. Until recently, most scientists believed that autism is caused mostly by genetic factors. But we have now found that environmental factors may also play a role.
There is no link between vaccines and autism spectrum disorder
For the longest time, MMR vaccine has been linked with Autism because of a study published By Dr. Wakefield in a medical journal called Lancet. But the study was withdrawn 12 years laetr and scientists has found no links between lthe vaccine and risk of Autism.
MMR vaccine is a live vaccine which means it contains live, weakened/attenuated viruses that protect us against deadly diseases thaqt run a fulminant course like Measles, mumps, and rubella.
Thats it for today.
If you have any questions regarding Autism, Aspergers, or its management please do comment below and I will be happy to help.
You can connect with dr. Farah on her social media and you can find her book ” Newborns and New moms” on amazon below.
She goes by the moniker Momstein on her social media. She makes informative videos as well as parody songs on her youtube channel.
Her book New moms and Newborns aims to bridge the gap between the mom and grandmom generation by validating traditional Indian practices in the light of modern science.
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