Autism-even the word is scary.
And there are a hundred questions surrounding it:
- What is it?
- Is it genetic?
- Why did it happen?
- Can it be reversed?
- How do I deal with it?
Why do so many children have autism now, and what are signs of autism in children?
What It Is
Autism is a spectrum (a range) of disorders that are closely related to each other with many of the same symptoms. It appears in infancy and early childhood, and causes delays in basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, and playing and interacting with others. While the symptoms of autism can vary a great deal, every child will be affected in these 3 areas:
- communicating, whether by speech or by gesture
- the ability to relate to others and the world around them
- thinking and reasoning ability and skills
What Are the Early Signs of Autism? What Should You Look For?
If your baby acts in any of the following ways, you might want to ask your pediatrician for a follow up examination:
- your baby or toddler doesn’t make eye contact when you are feeding them, or smiling at them
- your child doesn’t respond to his name being called
- your child doesn’t follow when you point things out
- your child doesn’t wave bye, or use other gestures to try to communicate with you
- your child does not make noises to get your attention
- your child doesn’t reach out to be picked up
- your child doesn’t play with others or share interesting or enjoyable activities.
Is It Genetic?
While scientists have not identified a single gene as causing autism, researchers are studying irregular segments of genetic code that children with autism may have inherited. They also believe that some children are born predisposed to develop autism, but they have not yet identified a single “trigger” that causes autism to develop. Autism also tends to run in families with particular medical conditions, and studies are also being done to rule out conditions in pregnancy that may affect the development of autism.
Why Did It Happen?
Scientists still don’t have a solid explanation of why the autism disorder has been growing at such an alarming rate. In 2000, the incidence of autism was 1 in 150, in 2010, it was 1 in 68 children, in 2016 it was 1 in 45 (among boys). The CDC says that it is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. But their research has not answered the question, ‘why?’.
Can Autism Be Reversed?
Without knowing the cause(s) of autism, it is difficult if not impossible to determine a recommendation for prevention. However, in 2014, CBS news reported the results of a new study that suggested “that if treatment begins as early as the first six months of life, it can vastly improve a child’s outcome and possibly even eliminate symptoms.” They went on to state that the results of early intervention could mean that a child who receives therapy as a baby will no longer show signs of autism by the age of 3!
How Do I Deal With Autism in My Child?
Know that there are many degrees of autism. Some children will not have all the symptoms, some will be high-functioning and can develop skills to cope with their disability. Your child will only give up if you do, so expect great things and they will pick up on your hope and expectations. Read and learn all you can about everything that affects your child. New research and new studies are being done all the time, and every one is a new piece of the puzzle that is autism.
Please check out the resources and products included in this post for information and useful products for babies or toddlers who are coping with autism every day. And please, leave comments or suggestions below, as they may help another parent or caretaker who is dealing with autism.