Autism is a mysterious condition that appears before the age of three. It is a neurological disorder that shows up in social impairment, language impairment, and imagination impairment. There are no physical signs of the disorder, but parents often notice the signs in the behavior of their small child even if they’ve never heard of autism.
The signs, symptoms, and severity of autism are different in almost every child. Some are born with the indications while others begin to develop normally, then change abruptly. The autistic baby may be unresponsive to people and ignore many toys only to concentrate on a single object. They may avoid eye contact and pull away from cuddling and physical displays of affection.
Speech often develops more slowly than with a typical child, if it develops at all. Violent or self-injurious behavior seems to develop without a cause. Parents know that something is wrong even though well-meaning friends and family may encourage denial. It is important to receive help for the affected child as soon as possible. Autism in children requires therapy to aid in development.
Today’s doctors should be well versed in the traits of autism in children. Pediatricians know the developmental milestones and can tell whether a child is within normal parameters. Still, there are no medical tests to diagnose autism in children. When a problem is found, the first step is to rule out other possible conditions. Lack of speech development can be caused by deafness.
Mental retardation can show up in lack of interest in toys and play, and repetitive actions or violent outbursts could point to neurological problems beside autism. If the problem is found early, the doctor will be dealing with a patient who can’t communicate or understand symptoms. Once autism is suspected, the child should be referred to an expert.
A specialist trained in treating autism in children has several instruments to help reach a diagnosis. There are standardized rating scales to measure observed behavior and a structured interview with parents to determine the child’s history of symptoms. Videos and photos can help to pinpoint when behaviors first showed and the age at which milestones were reached. Even as symptoms begin to point to autism, the specialist has to consider several other conditions that resemble autism in children.
Once the specialist rules out other possible causes and confirms the telltale signs of poor social relationships, poorly developed communication skills, repetitive behaviors, and strong interests the specialist can move ahead to help the family deal with the situation and begin designing individualized therapies that will help the child.