Autism is a developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to other people as well as the world around them. While all people with autism share certain areas of difficulty, their condiion will affect them in different ways.
There are around 700,00 people with autism in the UK. If you include their families, autism spectrum disorders affect 2.7 million people every day.
Symptoms can be split into three groups: -
These can begin to present as early as six months old and diagnosis is usually reached by the age of three.
A more detailed examination of symptoms include repetitive behaviour such as hand flapping, body rocking or arranging objects in neat, regimented lines; an almost obsessional love of routine, difficulty communicating with others and restricted interests. In approximately 30% of cases self-injury can also be a common feature.
Autistic infants smile less than ordinary babies and look at other people less often; they are unlikely to use eye contact or non-verbal communication such as pointing at things. As young and growing children, they show little spontaneity or non-verbal communication and find it extremely difficult to make friends. Although they are perceived as self-sufficient, autistic children are often very lonely.
Learning disabilities are also common with practical problems such as learning to cook a meal or wash themselves.
Asperger Syndrome is one of the better known variants of ASD. People with Asperger Syndrome are often of above average intelligence and do not usually have the same learning disabilities but frequently have other problems such as dyslexia, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or epilepsy.
High functioning autism is a diagnosis meaning that the autistic child is believed to be less severely affected by autism than other, more severe cases.
Often called “the hidden disability,” autism has traditionally been believed to be a lifelong condition with no cure. Despite classified symptoms, it is not always possible to identify autism in children because parents can rationalise their child’s behaviour, believing it to be simple introversion or in some cases a personality disorder as opposed to a recognised condition with help and expertise in management and care.
New research indicates that a simple brain trace could identify autism in toddlers. EEG traces that record electrical brain activity using scalp electrodes could be used as a diagnostic test in children as young as two years old.
Yet while autism has always been believed to be a lifelong condition with no cure, new research also suggests that children can in some cases grow out of it.
For more information, visit: http://www.autism.org.uk/