Deborah and Zaid were two love birds that got married after courting for about four years. After their wedding, Deborah was very convinced that nothing will “come between” her and her beloved husband except their stunning future children.
Two years later, things began to fall apart shortly after Deborah gave birth to their first child, Adewale. Adewale is 18 months old but doesn’t do many things as other kids of his age do, like making eye contact, facial expressions, babbling, and mimicking gestures.
Deborah and Zaid were so troubled. How could their son have developmental difficulty? What could have gone wrong? They decided to see a pediatrician.
The pediatrician (Let’s call her Dr.KPK) informed them that Adewale has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She went further to explain ASD, its symptoms and treatments:
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are pervasive developmental disorders characterized by social and communicative deficits and restricted interests and behaviors.
In different studies, children on the autism spectrum generally show lower results in cognitive and adaptive functions. These differences evolve over time and affect areas of cognitive, social, and behavioral development.
Main symptoms of autism spectrum disorders include restricted, repetitive behaviors combined with social communication challenges. ASD symptoms that begin in early childhood tend to continue into adolescence and adulthood.
Around the age of 3, most children master their cognitive skills. They are able to understand cause and effect, solve problems, and predict outcomes. In contrast, the same-age children on the autism spectrum usually struggle with focus, attention, transitions, memory, organization, and time management. In addition, as autism is a spectrum, this means that each child will have their own needs, particularly when it comes to education.
Causes of Autism
Studies have shown that genetics plays a significant role in a great number of autism cases
- Parents who have a child affected by autism, have 2 to 18 percent chance of having a second child with ASD
- Children born to older parents are at higher risk of having ASD
- If one of any identical twins has autism, the other will be affected in 36 to 95 percent of cases.
In addition, certain environmental factors may increase autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed. These factors include:
- Pregnancies set apart less than one year
- Pregnancy and birth complications
Autism Treatment Options
For detailed ASD screening, a child with ASD symptoms may be referred to some of the following specialists:
- Pediatric neurologists
- Child clinical psychiatrists or psychologists
- Developmental pediatricians
- Physical therapists
- Audiologists and/or speech therapists