An estimated 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States (Autism Speaks, n.d.). Can be diagnosed in all racial and ethnic groups, as well as every age group. In the 2013 publication of DSM-5 diagnostic manual, Asperger syndrome, Autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder- not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) were merged into one category of ASD. This paper will explain what Autism Spectrum Disorder is, causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, clinical trials and what it is like living with someone with Autism (Autism Society, n.d.).
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
“Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Autism are general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development,” (Autism Speaks, n.d.). The developmental disability causes problems with behavior, social interaction, and both verbal and nonverbal communication. Autism can be a mild or severe condition, which varies for every person. There is nothing visually different with an individual with ASD compared to others, but people with ASD may interact, behave, communicate, and learn in different ways. “The term spectrum refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment or disability that children with ASD can have,” (NIMH, n.d.).
What causes ASD?
There is not an exact cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder known by Scientists. Researchers suggest that genes and environment both play important roles. Individuals who develop ASD did not report family history of any form of Autism. If identical twins share the exact same genetic code and one has ASD, 9 out of 10 cases, the other twin has ASD too. Also, if one sibling has ASD, the others have 35 times the normal risk of also getting the disorder. Having increased genetic risk does not mean that a child will develop ASD.
Researchers are studying many different environmental factors, family medical conditions, parental age, complications during birth or pregnancy, etc., that may be involved in increased risk for ASD. “Environment refers to anything outside of the body that can affect health including everything our bodies come in contact with. Environment also includes surroundings in the womb since our mother’s health directly affects our growth and earliest development,” (NIMH, n.d.).
Signs and Symptoms
From one individual to another, signs and symptoms of ASD will vary, not all will experience the same. “Children with Autism may have problems with communication, social skills, and reacting to the world around them,” (ASHA, n.d.). Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors. Below are some signs and symptoms of Autism, (ASHA, n.d.).
Not speaking or very limited speech
Difficulty expressing basic wants and needs
Poor vocabulary development
Problems following directions
Poor eye contact with people or objects
Problems making friends
Crying, becoming angry,...