What is Autism
Autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Since it is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently. (Autism Speak)
What are the Symptoms of Autism
- Abnormal Body Posturing or Facial Expressions.
- Abnormal Tone of Voice.
- Avoidance of Eye Contact or Poor Eye Contact.
- Behavioral Disturbances.
- Deficits in Language Comprehension.
- Delay in Learning to Speak.
- Flat or Monotonous Speech.
- Inappropriate Social Interaction. (Medicinenet)
- Intense Focus on One Topic
- Lack of Empathy
- Lack of Understanding Social Cues
- Learning Disability or Difficulty
- Not Engaging in Play With Peers
- Preoccupation With Specific Topics
- Problems With Two-Way Conversation
- Repeating Words or Phrases
- Repetitive Movements
- Self-Abusive Behaviors
- Sleep Disturbances
- Social Withdrawal
- Unusual Reactions in Social Settings
- Using Odd Words or Phrases
What is the main cause of autism?
Does it have a cure?
What are the treatments?
- Behavioral management therapy
- Cognitive behavior therapy
- Early intervention
- Educational and school-based therapies
- Joint attention therapy
- Medication treatment
- Nutritional therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Parent-mediated therapy
- Physical therapy
- Social skills training
- Speech-language therapy
See Also: Sign Language in Kenya
Screening and Diagnosis
Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult, since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.
ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with an ASD might not get the help they need.
Diagnosing an ASD takes two steps:
- Developmental Screening
- Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation
Developmental screening is a short test to tell if children are learning basic skills when they should, or if they might have delays. During developmental screening the doctor might ask the parent some questions or talk and play with the child during an exam to see how she learns, speaks, behaves, and moves. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a problem.
Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation
The second step of diagnosis is a comprehensive evaluation. This thorough review may include looking at the child’s behavior and development and interviewing the parents. It may also include a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and other medical testing.
In some cases, the primary care doctor might choose to refer the child and family to a specialist for further assessment and diagnosis