Autism: Things You should need to know about Autism

Autism: Things You should need to know about Autism

We often hear about people, especially children, who are autistic and yet this is a condition rarely well understood. Most of us only have a general idea of what Autism is and only a few truly realize the limitations that a child and the family have to face due to this disorder.

Autism is actually an umbrella term that is used to describe an array of conditions that affect and hamper an individual’s ability to communicate and interact. Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a severe developmental disorder that causes a person to face a combination of different conditional challenges with respect to social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.

There are many different types of Autism and as a result, the disorder creates a wide variation in the strengths, as well as challenges that one autistic child/person faces; vis-à-vis the other. It therefore, brings to fore unique strengths and differences in every affected person.

Few things about Autism, which will help in understanding, it better

  • The signs and symptoms of Autism start showing between two to three years of age. In few extreme cases, the symptoms may even be evident by just 18 months of age.
  • Autism mostly affects the intellectual ability due to which the mental aptitude becomes narrow and slow.
  • Every infant or child may display different symptoms and effects of the condition. It can be very mild in few kids, which can be confused with slow development, until it picks up pace after attaining a certain age.
  • Boys are four to five times more prone to Autism than girls.

Signs and symptoms, which shouldn’t be ignored

These signs might not always indicate towards autism, but there is no harm in getting a check-up done to rule it out. Developmental milestones are always a good indicator of a child’s health. If the baby is showing either of these signs with respect to developmental milestones, then consulting the pediatrician should be the first and foremost consideration.

Six months old

  • Restricted or nil eye contact
  • Joyless expressions towards people
  • Cold gestures
  • Not looking at the mother while taking breastfeed

Nine months old

  • Non-verbal communication
  • No response upon taking their name or passing a smile
  • No reciprocation to sounds
  • Lack of facial expressions

One year old (12 months)

  • No sign of babbling or “baby talk”
  • No gestures for communication like pointing, asking for something or waving
  • Zero response to anything said

One and a half year old (18 months)

  • Not speaking even a single word
  • No initiative to be picked up or cuddled
  • No imitation of facial expression.

Two years old (24 months)

  • No repetition of words or phrases
  • Not speaking normal short words or meaningful phrases
  • No sharing of enjoyment or interests

What Causes Autism

Until recently, it was believed that Autism is caused by genetic factors but latest research points towards certain ‘environmental factors’ which may increase the risk of Autism in a baby who is genetically predisposed to the disorder.

These include the following –

  • Maternal infection especially rubella during pregnancy
  • Age of dad and mom at the time of conception
  • Gap between two pregnancies – it is best to wait for over a year before conceiving again
  • Health and nutrition of the mother – A healthy diet reduces risk of autism
  • Prenatal vitamins – a mother who takes prenatal supplements before conception helps reduce the risk of autism
  • Complications during birth such as lack of oxygen to the baby increase risk of autism

No blood test, brain scan, or physical test can diagnose Autism. It can solely be determined by observing the behavior of the child.

Also Read: 5 Incredible benefits of storytelling for kids

Prevention is better than cure, treatment for Autism


If you feel that a child is displaying any of the above symptoms, it is best to take medical help. Usually doctors give the parents a questionnaire to fill out. It is a quick checklist of yes-or-no answers. It helps in forming a feedback of the child’s behavior. A pediatrician or a psychologist conducts it to help go through an initial screening of any child with symptoms of ASD.

Consultation with Development specialist

This can be considered as the next step if the child is diagnosed with Autism in screening. Any specialist does not consider screening as the whole-sole basis of diagnosing autistic behavior. That is why the specialist on a one-on-one basis to conclude conducts few more tests.

Some repetitive behaviors observed in autistic children

  • Hand flapping
  • Finger flicking
  • Staring in particular direction
  • Repeating words or sounds
  • Head banging
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Specific way of playing and lining up toys
  • Tapping the ears

Also Read: 25 Essential Habits that Parents must Teach their Kids


Several therapies are provided to the Autistic children and their families to handle the situation in mature way and to help the child and the family cope up with the symptoms and changes.

  • Anger Management: It helps in minimizing the destructive emotional outburst, calming down the mind, adjusting with the behavioral changes, and reducing agitation.
  • Family therapy: This is given by a psychologist to the family, especially parents, to understand their child and accept the problem. They are counseled for being more patient towards the child’s behavior and to control their own frustration towards the situation.
  • Behaviour therapy: This therapy helps in modifying the harmful behaviors, which are caused due to psychological stress.
  • Speech therapy: This therapy helps in developing the speech and language of the child for better communication.
  • Clinical psychologist: A clinical psychologist counsels the mental disorder through talk therapy.

Science and technology have reached a benchmark stage in today’s era. Nothing is impossible and incurable. But the key to the entire problem lies in accepting the fact that there is a problem that needs attention. We should always remember that the children diagnosed with Autism are not disabled; they are specially-abled and just need a little bit of extra care, love and help to lead a near normal life.

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