ASD What is autism spectrum disorder?

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Understanding ASD

Necessary information about ASD Autism spectrum disorder, its possible causes, and how it is usually diagnosed.

Also discusses other related conditions like pervasive developmental disorder or Asperger’s syndrome.

Main points

  • Autism spectrum disorder refers to a specific set of behavioral and developmental issues affecting your child’s communication, social and play skills.
  • Every child with the disorder is unique and has their own combination of characteristics.
  • A diagnosis is based on what a medical doctor or psychologist observes and learns about your child’s behavior and development in the early years.
  • ASD is not a mental illness.
  • No specific cause is known.
  • There is no medical cure for Autism, but with the right treatment, some behaviors can be modified.

Autism spectrum disorder affects your child’s interest, social behavior, communication, and play behavior. This post explains the general characteristics, how it is diagnosed, and common misconceptions about its causes.

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder is the name used for a specific set of behavioral problems, development issues. A diagnosis means that your child’s communication, social, and play skills are affected in some way.

The word spectrum in ASD means that every child is unique and has their own combination of characteristics. These combine to give them a clear social communication and behavior profile.

As your child ages and develops, the nature or expression of these problems and challenges might change.. Most of the time, a person with ASD will have some form of social and/or behavioral differences for the whole of their life

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A diagnosis is based on what a medical doctor or psychologist observes and learns about your child’s behavior and development in the early years.

That person needs to find out about your child’s history, particularly the first years, by asking questions and interview anyone else who knows them well.

Other names for Autism spectrum disorder

Often different professionals use different names to describe Autism spectrum disorder, and in the beginning, this can cause confusion. Some names you may hear used to describe your child are:

  • Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD)
  • Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)
  • Asperger syndrome
  • High functioning autism

All of these names fall under the term Autism spectrum disorder.

The diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder

Nost of us is often confused by a diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder. Many parents say, “My child can’t be autistic because they are affectionate, makes eye contact, likes to be hugged, doesn’t bang their head, and so on.”

Some children with ASD may avoid any eye contact. Other children may be the opposite may stare at others. Some children with this condition like to be hugged, but others irritated by it.

As much as children with Autism share similar characteristics, they also can be very different from. Like all children, children with the Autism spectrum disorder have different likes and dislikes.

A diagnosis of ASD means that your child’s development will look different in three main areas:

  • social behavior
  • communication
  • play: behavior and interests are repetitive or limited

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How common is ASD?

Autism spectrum disorder is a general developmental condition around the Globe. Based on Canadian research by Fombonne and colleagues from 2006, one in every 165 people has Autism spectrum disorder.

Four in five people with the disorder are male. It affects people from all parts of the world and It affects people of every social, economic background and race.

What causes ASD?

Many studies are looking at the causes. Although no one specific reason is known, recent studies indicate that it might be related to differences in our brain.

In some families, scientists identified a pattern of Autism spectrum disorder or related differences in more than one member of the family, therefore, it indicates there is a genetic basis for the disorder.

Still, not one gene has been directly linked to the disorder. In fact, Autism spectrum disorder is possibly the result of a complex interaction of several genes. More research needed to identify these genes.

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Several outdated ideas about the cause of ASD, been proven NOT to be true. There was a time when parents were blamed for their child’s problems. For example,

The view was that Children with Autism spectrum disorder have a hard time forming relationships with others because their parents were not loving them enough.
Mothers were mainly blamed. They were marked and called “refrigerator mothers.”

We understand that the brain of a child with Autism spectrum disorder develops differently from conception. We know that:

Autism spectrum disorder is not a mental illness.

Children who have Autism spectrum disorder are not choosing to misbehave.
Bad parenting is not the cause.

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Is there a cure for ASD?

There is no medical solution for the differences in the brain that cause the disorder. However, because we understand the mind and Autism spectrum disorder a bit better now, we might be able to influence the brain development.

Day by day we are discovering ways to help people deal with different characteristics of Autism spectrum disorder. With the right treatment, some behaviors can be transformed. But still, most children and adults with this disorder will always have some attributes of Autism spectrum disorder for the rest of their lives.

Istvan Hetesi

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