Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions


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The most common savant skills involve mathematical calculations, calendars, artistic and musical abilities, and feats of memory.


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For example, an autistic savant might be able to multiply large numbers in his or her head, play a piano concerto after hearing it once, or quickly memorize complex maps. The road to an ASD diagnosis can be difficult and time-consuming.

In fact, it is often two to three years after the first symptoms of ASD are noticed before an official diagnosis is made. This is due in large part to concerns about labeling or incorrectly diagnosing the child. In order to determine whether your child has autism spectrum disorder or another developmental condition, clinicians look carefully at the way your child interacts with others, communicates, and behaves.

Diagnosis is based on the patterns of behavior that are revealed. If you are concerned that your child has autism spectrum disorder and developmental screening confirms the risk, ask your family doctor or pediatrician to refer you immediately to an autism specialist or team of specialists for a comprehensive evaluation. Since the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is complicated, it is essential that you meet with experts who have training and experience in this highly specialized area. Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a brief process. Medical exam — The medical evaluation includes a general physical, a neurological exam, lab tests, and genetic testing.

Autism: What Is It?

Your child will undergo this full screening to determine the cause of his or her developmental problems and to identify any co-existing conditions. Hearing test — Since hearing problems can result in social and language delays, they need to be excluded before an Autism Spectrum Disorder can be diagnosed.

5.5 Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome

Your child will undergo a formal audiological assessment where he or she is tested for any hearing impairments, as well as any other hearing issues or sound sensitivities that sometimes co-occur with autism. Observation — Developmental specialists will observe your child in a variety of settings to look for unusual behavior associated with the Autism Spectrum Disorder. They may watch your child playing or interacting with other people. Lead screening — Because lead poisoning can cause autistic-like symptoms, the National Center for Environmental Health recommends that all children with developmental delays be screened for lead poisoning.

These tests can be helpful not only in diagnosing autism, but also for determining what type of treatment your child needs:. Cognitive testing — Your child may be given a standardized intelligence test or an informal cognitive assessment.


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  • This may include testing social, nonverbal, and verbal skills, as well as the ability to perform daily tasks such as dressing and feeding him or herself. Autism Spectrum Disorders — What should you know? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism Navigator — Guide to symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

    Center for Parent Information and Resources. Screening and Diagnosis — A guide to the evaluation used to diagnosis autism spectrum disorder. Autism Society of America. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions. Autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term used for various brain development disorders. They are characterized and thus categorized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. Autistic disorder, Rett Syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, PDD-NOS pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified and Asperger Syndrome can be listed under this umbrella.

    There are many characteristics that define autism spectrum disorder ASD as mental inabilities, struggles with motor functions and other mental and health issues that come along. Besides these, some individuals with autism may show extraordinary skills in math, art, music. Autism is thought to take its roots from early brain development stages. Its symptoms generally occur between the age of 12 and 18 months. Early intervention and various therapy methods are important for a comfortable life. You may think that something you did or ate or were exposed causes autism.

    The cause of autism. However, thanks to new developments in technologies and researches, today we can shed some light as to what causes autism.

    Autism Spectrum Disorder Basics | Child Mind Institute

    Scientists found recently that a number of mutations can be associated with autism; researches show there are more than hundred autism risk genes. Although in some cases a specific genetic cause of autism of a person can be identified, most cases have complex combination of genetic and environmental risk factors that eventually affect early brain development. This means that a number of environmental factors other than genetic predisposition also increases the risk of developing autism. Environmental factors that occur before and during birth were evidently found to create a risk.

    Not one specific factor was found to be the sole cause of autism. When combined with genetic mutation, they seem to create a higher risk. The cause of autism is still an investigated topic. Researches are now increasingly looking into the role of immune system in autism. In the meantime, it is important to raise awareness and keep up with current developments in order to stay on top of the issue. According to the U. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC statistics show that 1 in 68 American children are considered to be on the autism spectrum.

    This rate increased ten times in the last 40 years. Researches show that improved diagnosis and awareness only explain a part of this increase. Also, in the United States, 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in girls are diagnosed with autism; which means that autism is more common among boys than girls. In about 25 percent of autism cases, a specific genetic cause can be identified. The remaining 75 percent of cases likely involve a complex combination of genetic factors and yet-to-be identified environmental influences. At this time, there is no evidence that specific chemicals in the environment, immunization practices or dietary differences cause autism.

    Can we tell which side of the family the autism came from? If your child has autism and you are interested in genetic testing, you can ask your child's doctor for a referral to a medical geneticist. After conducting a detailed family history and physical exam of your child, the doctor may recommend genetic testing, which usually is a blood test and sometimes a urine test. The medical geneticist and genetic counselor can help you determine which, if any, genetic tests are appropriate for your child based on your family history, your child's physical features and your child's medical and developmental history.

    They can also provide genetic counseling. Some genetic testing may require pre-authorization by your insurance company. If a genetic cause is found, you can determine if the mutation was inherited from one, both or neither parent. If there is no autism epidemic, why do the autism statistics just keep climbing?

    This estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than the last estimate, reported in , which found that 1 in 88 children have autism spectrum disorder.

    RECOGNIZING AUTISM

    While the reasons for the increase are not fully understood, it is thought that better awareness in identifying and diagnosing children is the major contributing factor. How can I be sure vaccines have nothing to do with autism? Immunizations are a cornerstone of public health and protect people from many debilitating and deadly infectious diseases.

    Government agencies routinely conduct thorough analyses of the current medical and scientific evidence on vaccine safety and vaccine-related adverse events. While there is evidence of some rare adverse events related to vaccines, such as seizures, inflammation of the brain and fainting, the evidence shows that there are no links between immunization and autism. How can I find the best treatments for myself or my child?

    Research suggests that early intensive behavioral intervention, based on applied behavioral analysis, is effective at improving language, function and behavior in individuals with autism. There are two drugs, risperidone and aripiprazole, that can improve challenging behaviors such as emotional distress, aggression, hyperactivity and self-injury, but these drugs do not lead to improvements in social skills or communication.

    Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions
    Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions
    Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions
    Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions
    Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions
    Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions
    Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions
    Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions

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