Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are developmental conditions that cause children to have problems with communication and interactions with other people. Each child who has an ASD has a unique set of challenges and strengths.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are neurodevelopmental disorders, meaning they affect the way your child develops and behaves. The core behaviors that define ASDs are:
difficulty with social interactions, language and other forms of communication, like gesturing or using facial expressions
unusual, restricted or repetitive behaviors (also called “stereotyped” behaviors or stereotypies), which can involve either interests or actions
ASDs have a wide range of effects on children. And while an ASD impacts a child’s development, it doesn’t impact his development evenly, in every area. If your child has an ASD, he probably has both difficulties and strengths.
Most cases of ASDs have no known cause. A lot of research is going on now. One thing seems clear: There are probably many different causes. And it’s very unlikely that anything you did or did not do during your pregnancy or your child’s infancy or toddler years was the cause of your child’s ASD.
ASDs appear to be largely genetic disorders, and there are probably multiple DNA changes involved. Research at Children’s and other institutions is going on now to understand how these DNA changes may contribute to children’s symptoms. Because ASDs are often genetic, a child who has a sibling or parent with an ASD has an increased risk of also having an ASD. On the other hand, some of the DNA changes that can cause ASDs are “spontaneous”—that is, a child didn’t inherit the DNA change, but instead it happened in just his DNA.
In a small number of cases, a prenatal infection, injury or other medical condition is thought to be involved. While it has been suggested that some vaccines may be a cause, there is a large amount of research showing that vaccines are not associated with ASDs. To read more about ongoing efforts to understand the causes of autism, including a discussion of vaccines, visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Currently, there are three recognized types of ASDs:
But ASDs are far more diverse than a list of just three names implies. It now appears that there are many different types of ASDs. So today some experts don’t even use those three names; instead, they may simply say “autism spectrum disorder,” because “spectrum” reflects the huge diversity.
ASDs are also called pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). PDDs are sometimes considered to be a broader group that includes two other disorders:
Rett syndrome is a condition that has been included among PDDs, but it is now considered to be a distinct disorder that has many autism-like symptoms.
Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is a disorder in which a child has autistic symptoms and experiences a severe regression in skills. This diagnosis is very rare.
Autism, Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS are three specific types of ASDs. Each is diagnosed based on your child’s behavior:
In autism, your child has symptoms in all three of the core areas.
In Asperger syndrome, your child has the social and behavioral symptoms of autism, but he does not have language delay. However, his language skills may still be unusual in some way, and he may have trouble using language for socially communicating with other people. Children with Asperger’s don’t have significant cognitive impairments, whereas children with autism or PDD-NOS may or may not.
In PDD-NOS, your child has difficulties in social interactions, language and behavior but doesn’t meet the full criteria for autism.
The symptoms typically occur before your child is 3. Often, subtle symptoms—such as not making eye contact, gesturing or responding to one’s name—can be seen in children as young as 1. Sometimes children develop normally at first, but then stop gaining new skills or lose skills at around 18 to 24 months
ASDs are neurodevelopmental disorders, meaning they affect the way your child develops and behaves.
have trouble interacting or communicating with others, including family
appear unable to understand how another person feels
not show interest in physical contact with other people
appear withdrawn or prefer to do things by himself
have difficulty making friends
avoid eye contact with others
have trouble speaking or not speak at all
say a word or phrase repeatedly (“echolalia”)
have trouble understanding subtleties in language, like jokes
repeat a motion, such as rocking or flapping his hands or spinning in circles
have unusual rituals or ways of playing with toys
prefer routines, and get upset when a routine is broken
have a particular area of interest that consumes a lot of his attention
be preoccupied with lights or moving objects
peer at things out of the corner of his eye
dislike certain sensory inputs, such as loud noises
crave other sensory inputs, such as deep pressure on his skin
A few children with autism spectrum disorders also have exceptional skills or talents in a specific area, such as math, music, art or memory.
Every child with an ASD is unique
An ASD impacts your child’s development, but it doesn’t impact his development evenly, in every area. Instead, a diagnosis of an ASD means that your child has unusual development. So if your child has an ASD, he probably has both difficulties and strengths.
There’s a wide variation in how ASDs affect children. For example:
Some children with an ASD may have very few language skills, while others speak easily but aren’t good at using language to communicate with other people.
Some are extremely intelligent, while others have severe cognitive impairments.
Some may not have any atypical behaviors that are immediately noticeable, while others have behaviors that may look very unusual.
Some are easygoing, while some may get easily frustrated and tend to behave aggressively or injure themselves.
Likewise, it’s not possible to simply say that one child is on the “low” end of the autism spectrum and that another child is at the “high” end. Instead, each child will likely struggle in different areas and be more skilled at different things.
Estimates of the number of children who have an ASD have varied widely—from fewer than one child in every 1,000 to one in 110. It’s very difficult to know what the true number is, since different studies were conducted and interpreted in different ways
The number of children being diagnosed with ASDs has been increasing since the 1980s. Many experts agree that this increase is due at least in part to better identification of children who have autistic symptoms, as well as a broadening in diagnostic criteria. In other words, a child who’s diagnosed with an ASD today might not have been diagnosed 20 years ago.
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There’s currently no guarenteed medical cure for the core symptoms of ASDs. However, medications are often used successfully for related symptoms, such as irritability, hyperactivity, attention problems, anxiety or seizures. Treating these related symptoms may help your child with some of the symptoms of his ASD, as well. During the last few years homeopathy have shown some promising results in setteling various symptoms and therefore bringing very positive effects.
We should also keep in mind that researches are going on and there was a time when no cure was there even for the most general Health conditions...So be hopefull...:)
So even without a cure, You have reasons to be hopefull, our advise is to have patience, give an early intervetion alongwith necessary therapies, diet and dose of love and support to your kid, There are chances that you'd see the kid getting mainstreamed..:)
There’s no easy answer, as each child is so different and as our understanding of these conditions and the therapies available are changing. Sometimes, a child’s behavioral symptoms may change enough that his specific diagnosis (autism, Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS) may change. In a few cases, with time and intensive treatment, a child no longer meets the criteria for an ASD. Many children, however, will continue to have behaviors that indicate an ASD into adulthood, though their symptoms may improve over time or change in other ways.
Have patience, be vigilant, get the early intervention done with all the necessary therapies, and most importantly love your little angles unconditionally....:)In most of the cases its going to be a long journey, but keep working hard with them, They'll definately show improvement. Rather than spotting what we can't do, if we could spot only a couple of things which we do nicely....we may polish our skills and become a master of those couple of things only...:)
Yes, being a rational parent , we should always keep our eyes open. we must find the answers to the following questions.
What skills does your child have the most trouble with? These are the skills your child’s behavioral and educational therapists will most need to work with him on.
What are your child’s strengths? His team may be able to harness these strengths to help your child learn in other areas.
It’s also important to keep monitoring your child as he grows up, because the characteristics of his behavior and development may shift.
If you’re the parent of a child with an ASD, you already know his behaviors well, and you may already be working to access therapies for him. For you, the most pressing issue may be how to manage the everyday challenges that ASDs can bring. The following tips and resources may be helpful.
It’s generally best if you’re working toward the same goals and using the same methods at home that your child’s therapists are using during the day. Maintaining consistent routines throughout the day, both at home and school, is especially beneficial for children with ASDs. Talk to your child’s therapists so that your efforts are well coordinated. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the strategies the therapists are using and that you know how to reinforce them at home.
That doesn’t mean, however, that your child needs to be engaged in therapy-related activities all the time. You have lots of other responsibilities on your plate, and you and your child both need breaks. It’s perfectly OK to give your child times when he can pick what he wants to do for a while.
Learning how to manage difficult behaviors is part of parenting any child. If your child has an ASD, you may find yourself facing some especially tough challenges. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you find the information you need:
Safety is a special concern for children with ASDs: Your child may be more likely than others to wander away, for example, and other people may not understand your child’s behaviors.
Children with ASDs need to get a well-balanced, healthy diet, just as other kids do. But achieving that can be a struggle if your child is especially sensitive to the taste, texture, smell or temperature of his food, or if he has other unusual behaviors like eating compulsively or rechewing food. Some mealtime tips are:
offer your child meals and snacks at around the same time each day.
Keep mealtime calm, and limit distractions
Join your child during meals.
Allow your child to feed himself if he can.
Serve at least one food you know your child likes.
A bad night’s sleep means your child won’t be at his best the next day, and he may have extra problems paying attention, be more irritable or have more distracting behaviors. In most cases, behavioral strategies—like following a consistent nighttime routine and creating a quiet mood at bedtime—are very effective in solving sleep-related problems.
Routine and consistency is very beneficial for children with ASDs, but there are many occasions when you’ll want—and need—to do things that don’t fit the mold. These include going on a vacation, going to parties or special family events and, of course, going to medical appointments. Some general guidelines that may help in managing special outings include:
Prepare your child beforehand so he knows what to expect.
tell “social stories”
explain, to the best of your knowledge, what will happen
role play at home what’s going to happen
Create a schedule and plan structured activities that your child enjoys.
Try to keep your expectations reasonable. It may help to keep the outing short.
Do your best to stay calm if something unexpected happens. Children usually sense how a parent feels, so if you’re anxious, they’ll be anxious too.
The Children’s For Patients and Families site offers suggestions for talking about coming to the hospital that may be helpful for your family.
Information for your whole family
Accepting your child, understanding his behaviors and coping with his diagnosis should be a process for everyone in the family—parents, siblings, grandparents, and others.