People with autism have difficulties communicating, forming relationships with others and find it hard to make sense of the world around them.
Autism is a spectrum disorder varying in symptoms, severity and impact from person to person and ranging from those with no speech and limited cognitive ability to those of high IQ and typically highly-focused interests and abilities. Repetitive behaviours are common across the spectrum, which includes Asperger Syndrome. This is a form of autism in which speech development and IQ are normal, but in which social disability can be compounded by depression or other mental health problems.
Some people with autism demonstrate significantly challenging behaviours; most need specialist support and care.
A distinction is made in assessing the needs of people with autism between those who have an IQ of less than 70, who are described as low functioning and classified as learning disabled, and those who have an IQ above 70 who are often described as high functioning.
Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
In total more than half a million people in the UK have an autism spectrum disorder.
Autism affects people of all racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
There are estimated to be around 540,000 people with an autistic spectrum disorder in the UK.
Today, it’s really not possible to diagnose an infant younger than 18 months with autism. If you are concerned, however, you can always monitor and track your child’s growth and development milestones.
There are some very useful checklists as well as growth and development tables available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/ActEarly/ccp/downloadmaterials.html for children of all ages. These milestones do not apply to just autism.
You should look to see if your infant is not meeting any of these normal milestones. It is important to remember, however, that all children and infants develop at a different pace. Just because your infant does not reach a certain milestone on the normal cycle does not mean your child has autism or any other condition, it just might mean you should consult your physician.
People with Autism Spectrum Disorders may have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities.
Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Autism Spectrum Disorders begin during early childhood and last throughout a person’s life.
A child with autism often has great difficulty with social interaction. Parents may be the first to notice that their child seems indifferent to interacting with them. For many children with autism, the social world seems confusing and unpredictable.
Children with autism don’t just experience difficulties in social situations, but struggles in everyday life. Most children with autism don’t understand normal social cues. Facial expressions and tone of voice are problematic to interpret and display. And while not universal, regulating their emotions can often be challenging. They may show signs of distress for no apparent reason. Crying, verbal outbursts, and physical harm to themselves and others are probable.
Autism has a wide variety of symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be misdiagnosed. Classic autism has a core of symptoms that include:
-Impaired ability to engage socially-Impaired ability to initiate or maintain a conversation-Inability to play appropriately or use imagination-Stereotyped, unusual, repetitive use of language or behavior (flapping, spinning)-Abnormal or intense focus on certain subjects or objects-Inflexible adherence to certain routines and rituals.
For children with autism, communicating with others can be quite a challenge. Verbal and nonverbalmmunication skills can be impaired, making everyday interaction a difficult task for the child, his peers, and family. Facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures, and eye contact can all be affected by autism.
Autism can present itself early on in a child’s life. Around 18 months, parents may notice that their child doesn’t make eye contact, or enjoy interactive social games (peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake). A young child with autism may not babble or point to objects, which are milestones that most children reach by their first birthday. The child may not smile or try to imitate sounds, leading to a delay in his speech development.
There are several behavioral signs of autism that parents may observe while spending time with their child. It is important to remember that each child is different; therefore, may exhibit one, some or all of the behaviors described.
Behaviors can be self-stimulating (i.e. flapping, spinning, etc.) or simply part of a daily routine (i.e. getting dressed must occur in the same sequence every day). The child may engage in these behaviors because he finds them intriguing or simply because that is the only way he knows to react to a situation.