There is a quiet epidemic of autism sweeping our nation’s children. The latest CDC statistics show a 15% increase in incidences of autism since 2014. That’s one in 59 children that have the disorder. The president of Autism Speaks stated the need for, “a significant increase in life-enhancing research and access to high-quality services for people with autism across the spectrum and throughout their lifespan.”
Given the increasing prevalence of autism cases in children, and difficulties inherent in diagnosing the disease, let’s look at some of the generally accepted signs of autism, as well as the causes behind the disorder.
What is Autism?
The Mayo Clinic says:
Autism spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication.
The idea of a “spectrum” of the disease references the wide variety and severity of symptoms. The disorder begins in childhood and there is currently no cure for the disorder.
What Causes Autism?
The short answer is we simply do not know. Current research suggests external factors trigger a genetic tendency toward autism. Brain scans in afflicted children show they have different structural components to their brain, but this has not been correlated as the cause of autism.
Some genetic conditions have potentially been connected to autism. To date, the cause of the disease has not been connected to the chemicals in vaccines, although the rumor circulates periodically on the internet.
Families with one child with autism spectrum disorder have a higher risk of having another child with the disorder. Boys are about four times more likely to have the disease than girls. There may also be a link to the age of the parents and the chance of autism.
Signs of Autism
GoodTherapy cites the DSM-5, which calls autism a “communication disorder.” These symptoms show up in childhood and can include:
- Difficulty with human communication.
- Challenges with abstract concepts or context.
- The inability or difficulty in following social norms such as listening or taking turns in a group.
- Avoidance of crowds or groups.
- Trouble completing tasks at work or school.
- Repetitive behaviors, which are called “stimming.” These could include spinning or rocking.
- A focus on routines.
- Severe dislike of changes in routines.
- Over- or under-responsiveness to sensory stimulation.
- Coordination problems or odd body movements such as walking on their toes.
- Is highly sensitive to sound, touch or light.
- May be indifferent to temperature or pain.
Children with autism may fail to respond to their names. They may not be able to make eye contact, lack facial expression and prefer to play alone. These children may not speak or their ability to speak may be delayed. Other symptoms could include:
- May speak in a singsong tone or a monotone.
- Doesn’t express emotions or feelings.
- Doesn’t want to be touched or hugged.
- Disrupts social settings by acting aggressively or passively.
- Cannot interpret other people’s body language, facial expression or tone of voice.
There is no way to prevent autism disorder. However, intensive therapeutic treatment can help the child struggling with the disorder. Making an early diagnosis of the disease can help parents cope while positively affecting health outcomes as the child ages.