Autism or Autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term used to refer to a set of neurodevelopmental disorders. Autism is commonly associated with problems with communicating and interacting in social situations regardless of the number of people present. As the name implies it is a spectrum which means two autistic people may not have the same symptoms and the symptoms will either vary in type or in how severe they manifest.
People with autism spectrum disorder will show behaviors such as repetitive, restrictive, and stereotypical actions. Autism affects the nervous system and will often affect the individual’s ability to function in social situations, interact and communicate their thoughts and desires. The month of April is a month dedicated to increasing awareness around Autism therefore we will be talking about autism, signs, and where to get tested.
The first thing we need to discuss is that there are several subtypes of ASD. This helps medical practitioners to understand the disorder a lot more.
- ASD that entails or doesn’t entail a language disability.
- ASD that entails or doesn’t entail an intellectual impairment.
- ASD with catatonia. Catatonia is a psychiatric condition of severe levels that results in an individual remaining in a state of shock or stupor whilst being rigid for a substantial amount of time. After the stupor fades there will usually be short bouts of agitation or aggression. Catatonia is usually associated with schizophrenia.
- ASD influenced by genetic, environmental, or medical factors.
- ASD associated with other disorders such as other neurodevelopmental disorders or mental and behavioral disorders.
Autism is a lifelong condition however there are support programs, therapy options, and other services that can help to improve the individual quality of life by reducing the severity of their symptoms. Autism can manifest at a very young age so it is important to know the signs and symptoms before visiting a medical professional.
Signs Of Autism
- Difficulty in Communication
- Emotionally stunted growth
- Difficulty in social situations
- Inability to make eye contact
- Easily getting upset after a minor change
- Hypersensitivity and reactions to sounds smell touch, taste, and sights as well
- Repetition and a tunnel vision focus on a very small or niche group of interests.
- Repetitive behavior like fidgeting, tics, noises, or clapping
- Issues with reading body language
- Issues with sharing emotions
- Issues with having conversations
- Issues with developing relationships of all sorts; romantic or platonic
- Obsessive adherence to routines
For toddlers and babies;
- Not answering their name or being able to point at objects whether close or far by 12-14 months.
- No signs of laughter by 6 months
- No signs of babbling by 4 months
- No signs of smiling by 5 months
For more details on spotting autism in babies and toddlers, visit here.
It is important to remember that there is no certain cause of ASD so if you or a family member is showing signs of autism, do not feel guilty or responsible.
Where to Get Tested
The recommended age for ASD screening is 18-24 months however if the toddler or individual shows signs of autism after this age, then they should be taken to a medical doctor for testing. You can familiarise yourself with the various methods of ASD testing here.