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 disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. The term "spectrum" in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.
Autism spectrum disorder begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society —socially, in school and at work, for example. Often children show symptoms of autism within the first year. A small number of children appear to develop normally in the first year, and then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months of age when they develop autism symptoms.
There are three types of Autism Spectrum Disorders:
Autistic Disorder (also called "classic" autism)
People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.
People with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called "atypical autism")
People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder. The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.
Autism spectrum disorder has no single known cause. Both genetics and environment may play a role.
Genetic factors - Several different genes appear to be involved in autism spectrum disorder. For some children, autism spectrum disorder can be associated with a genetic disorder, such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome. For other children, genetic changes (mutations) may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder. Still other genes may affect braindevelopment or the way that brain cells communicate, or they may determine the severity of symptoms. Some genetic mutations seem to be inherited, while others occur spontaneously.
Environmental factors - Researchers are currently exploring whether factors such as viral infections, medications or complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants play a role in triggering autism spectrum disorder.
There is no way to prevent autism spectrum disorder, but there are treatment options. Early diagnosis and intervention is most helpful and can improve behavior, skills and language development. However, intervention is helpful at any age. Though children usually don't outgrow autism spectrum disorder symptoms, they may learn to function well.
The goal of treatment is to maximize thechild's ability to function by reducing autism spectrum disorder symptoms and supporting development and learning.
Treatment options may include:
Behavior and communication therapies - Many programs address the range of social, language and behavioral difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorder. Some programs focus on reducing problem behaviors and teaching new skills. Other programs focus on teaching children how to act in social situations or communicate better with others. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) can help children learn new skills and generalize these skills to multiple situations through a reward-based motivation system.
Educational therapies - Children with autism spectrum disorder often respond well to highly structured educational programs. Successful programs typically include a team of specialists and a variety of activities to improve social skills, communication and behavior. Preschool children who receive intensive, individualized behavioral interventions often show good progress.
Family therapies - Parents and other family members can learn how to play and interact with their children in ways that promote social interaction skills, manage problem behaviors, and teach daily living skills and communication.
Other therapies - Speech therapy to improve communication skills, occupational therapy to teach activities of daily living, and physical therapy to improve movement and balance may be beneficial. A psychologist can recommend ways to address problem behavior.
Medications - No medication can improve the core signs of autism spectrum disorder, but specific medications can help control symptoms. For example, certain medications areprescribed forhyperactivechildren; antipsychotic drugs are used to treat severe behavioral problems; and antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety
Statistics in India
With one in 68 children being diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in India" India, early diagnosis, social acceptance of kids suffering from the neurological disorder and clearing misconceptions about the same is extremely important for social welfare,say experts. At least 70 million individuals worldwide have Autism, 10 million in India. Incidence Rate: Approx. 1 in 90,666 or 11,914 people in India. Prevalence Rate: Approx. 1 in 500 or 0.20% or more than 2,160,000 people in India