Autism Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
What causes Autism?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, scientists arenít certain about what causes ASD, but itís likely that both genetics and environment play a role. Researchers have identified a number of genes associated with the disorder. Studies of people with ASD have found irregularities in several regions of the brain. Other studies suggest that people with ASD have abnormal levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters in the brain. These abnormalities suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other, possibly due to the influence of environmental factors on gene function. While these findings are intriguing, they are preliminary and require further study. The theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved.

What are the symptoms of Autism?
According to Autism Speaks' multi-year Ad Council public service advertising campaign stresses the importance of recognizing the early signs of autism and seeking early intervention services. Research confirms that EARLY and appropriate screening can determine whether a child is at risk for autism as young as one year. While every child develops differently, we also know that early treatment improves outcomes, often dramatically. Studies show, for example, that early intensive behavioral intervention improves learning, communication and social skills in young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching.

The following 12 points may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. Autism varies widely in severity and symptoms and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is masked by more debilitating special needs. Diagnostic criteria that require evaluation by an expert include:

•  No babbling by 12 months

•  No response to name

•  Poor eye contact

•  Excessive lining up of toys or objects

•  No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter

•  No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months

•  No babbling by 12 months

•  No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months

•  No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months

•  Any loss of speech, language, babbling or social skills at any age

Later indicators include:

•  Impaired ability to make friends with peers

•  Impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others

•  Absence or impairment of imaginative and social play

•  Stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language

•  Restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus

•  Preoccupation with certain objects or subjects

•  Inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

Please contact your pediatrician, family doctor, or psychologist for an evaluation if your child exhibits any combination of the criteria mentioned above.

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