1. Etymology of the word “Autism”
The term “Autism” is derived from Greek language meaning self. In 1911 Eugen Bleuler first used the term autism to describe symptoms of schizophrenia. In 1943 Leo Kanner of Johns Hopkins Hospital began using the term autism as we know it today. Before 2013, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual defined five disorders such as: autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, PDD – NOS, Rett syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder. After May 2013, the APA recognised ASD as a collective with two distinct categories: impaired social communication and/or interaction; restricted and/or repetitive behaviours.
2. Autism Spectrum Disorders – definition
Autism is a developmental disability that usually shows up before age 3. It is part of a group of neurological disorders that may involve impaired communication, social interaction and cognitive skills. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may include: extreme resistance to changes in daily routines, repetitive activities, inability to interact with environment, and unusual responses to things such as touch. Children with ASD may also have major problems with both speech and nonverbal communication.
3. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders
In recent years, an increase in the frequency of diagnosed children with autism has been observed due to improved diagnosis, greater awareness and knowledge. In 2014 Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network reported that 1 in 59 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorders, and that autism is 4 times more common among boys than among girls. Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of between 1% and 2%.
4. What are the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder?
The causes of ASD are still being investigated but there is strong evidence that a combination of complex genetic (Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome) and environmental factors (viral infections, medications or complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants) play a big role. ASD tends to occur more often in people who have certain genetic or chromosomal conditions.
5. What are the main symptoms of autism?
Children with autism spectrum disorder have problem with social communication and interaction as well as patterns of behaviour including:
poor eye contact and lacks facial expression
doesn’t express emotions or feelings
doesn’t speak or delayed speech
speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm
fails to respond to his or her name
retreating into his or her own world
repeats words or phrases verbatim
doesn’t point at or bring objects to share interest
being passive, aggressive or disruptive
performs repetitive movements
has problems with coordination
is sensitive to light, sound or touch
has specific food preferences
6. How ASD is diagnosed?
Diagnosing an ASD usually takes two steps:
1. Developmental screening – is a short test to tell if children are learning basic skills.
2. A comprehensive evaluation – includes looking at the child’s behavior and development and also interviewing the parents. It may also includes a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and other medical testing.
7. What treatment and therapies are available?
The treatment of ASD children can include different kinds of therapies to improve speech and behawior:
Applied Behavior Analysis – help children with ASD learn positive behaviors and reduce negative ones.
Pivotal response training – helps develop motivation to learn and communicate.
Early intensive behavioral intervention – is dedicated to children under age 5.
Verbal behavior intervention – focuses on language skills.
The Picture Exchange Communication System – it uses symbols instead of picture cards.
Occupational Therapy – helps child learn life skills like feeding and dressing himself, etc.
Sensory Integration Therapy – help to child deal with that kind of sensory information.
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