Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism is the most common neurological disorder affecting children; and also is one of the most common developmental disabilities affecting American and Canadian Children. ASD changes the way the brain processes information which affects all areas of a person’s development.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disorder resulting in developmental disability; this affects a person’s communication, social understanding and behaviour including interests and activities. Autism usually appears around the first three years of a child’s life and boys are more prone to autism than girls.

No one person with ASD behaves or responds exactly the same way as others with the same diagnosis, each individual is quite unique. There are actually five different Autism Spectrum Disorders described under a diagnostic category, Pervasive Developmental Disorders [PDD].

1. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder[CDD]:

This is a rare condition that affects 0.2 in 10,000, symptoms are significant losses in social behaviour, language, and play. These symptoms usually appear after at least three years of normal developmental period. This disorder results in severe defects in cognitive ability.

2. Rett Syndrome:

This too is a rare condition that affects 1 in 10,000 and affects girls inclusively. Again significant regression after a period of normal development. Severe impaired language and psychotic motor skills and difficulty cognitive ability.

3. Autistic Disorder [AD]:

This condition is diagnosed more often and affects 20 in 10,000 cognitive impairments, deficits in non-verbal and verbal communications and social understanding, unusual behaviour and restrictive activities.

4. Pervasive Developmental Disorder – not already specified [PDD.NOS]:

This condition is often used in 15 in 10,000 diagnosed; this is also named a typical Autism. This condition is severe and pervasive impairment that can be found in some interaction or restrictive activities and interests.

5. Asperger Disorder – also called Asperger’s Syndrome, and Asperger Syndrome, AS

This is a common disorder and is diagnosed 5 in 10,000. This condition can have mild to severe impairments along with social understanding, interactions, repetitive, restricted interests and activities Cognitive and language development is not delayed; however there are deficits in communications.

Early Signs of Autism: (12 to 24 Months) – children may demonstrate only a few of these symptoms –

– May appear deaf because they respond unevenly or not at all to sounds

– ” Failure to Bond” (i.e. child is indifferent to parents’ presence)

– Does not Point and Look

– Chronic gastrointestinal problems

– Self restricted/selected diet

– Repeated infections

– Reaction to vaccines

– Difficulty consoling during transitions (tantrums)

– Often begins to develop language then loses it or doesn’t acquire language.

– Difficulty sleeping / wakes at night.

– Limited imaginative play

– Not interested in playing with other children

Many paediatricians and other physicians are not experienced in diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the physicians fear making the diagnosis because they were trained to believe that ASD is incurable. Do not accept your doctor’s advice if he or she proposes a “wait and see” approach or promises that your child will “catch up”. If your child has normal development and then regresses, you should seek help immediately. As a child’s brain develops it is pliable and there is a window of opportunity for recovery at a young age that however does diminishes as the child gets older.

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