What is autism spectrum disorder?

August 18, 2022

In the world there are more and more people with autism spectrum disorder. Know the details of this group of disorders and be part of a society more aware of this reality.

Nowadays, advances in science and easy access to information make it possible to increase knowledge in any area. For example, in the field of health we can now understand a little more about syndromes such as autism spectrum disorder. This creates a more sensitive society regarding this situation that affects thousands of families, as well as helps to promote respect and inclusion of those who suffer from it.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in every 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder. This ratio is even higher in certain countries such as Mexico, where at least 400,000 children had an autism spectrum disorder in 2021. In fact, considering epidemiological studies carried out in the last 50 years, it is observed that cases are increasing globally.

 

Specifics of autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological condition that impairs the individual’s social behavior, communication, and behavioral skills. It appears at an early age and is a chronic condition that will be present throughout life. Its name includes the word “spectrum” because its symptoms vary from one patient to another.

Among the signs and symptoms of ASD are:

  • Lack of interest in interacting.
  • Poorly integrated nonverbal communication.
  • Difficulty initiating or maintaining a conversation.
  • Rigid thinking.
  • Intellectual disability.
  • Repetitive movements.
  • Abnormal social approach.
  • Significant language difficulties.
  • Obsession with order.
  • Establishment of patterns and preferences for routines.
  • Repetition of phrases or numbers.

 

In other words, people with ASD have difficulty relating to others and expressing their feelings. They also have different ways of learning, reacting to things or paying attention. Therefore, they require support to function and perform their activities.

 

Additionally, it should be considered that some people with autism may develop other conditions such as: difficulty sleeping, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, self-injury, and problematic behaviors.

 

Diagnosis

It is certainly not possible to determine that a person has ASD through a blood test or some other physical examination. Instead, doctors in their routine checkups are attentive to children’s behavior and development. Basically, they focus on assessments to observe how the child learns, speaks, or moves, and thus compare with the skills and abilities expected for his or her age.

 

In case of noticing any delay or disability, it is recommended to perform more thorough evaluations by specialists such as developmental pediatricians, neurologists, pediatricians, psychologists or psychiatrists. In this regard, genetic testing may be necessary, as well as hearing and vision studies, among others.

 

The diagnosis of ASD now involves several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately. These include pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, Asperger syndrome and autistic disorder.

Treatment

There is no single clinical picture for patients with autism spectrum disorder, nor is there a specific treatment. In fact, this condition is classified in 3 degrees according to the level of dependence presented, from the lowest to the highest.

 

In this sense, there are people who, despite having difficulties to relate socially, can communicate with their environment. However, there is the other extreme where interaction may be even null and any change in their environment causes alterations, and it is here when constant help is required.

 

In this regard, treatments focus on improving the patient’s quality of life, maximizing their capabilities through tools and techniques that allow them to acquire new skills. Behavioral and communication therapies are some alternatives, and it is also valid to incorporate medications to control symptoms.

 

Expectations for people with ASD

It is important to highlight that people with autism, just as they can improve, they can also regress in their progress. They usually evolve based on the help they receive, the environment and their own experience.

Undoubtedly, there are contexts that are more favorable than others. It is not the same to live in environments that encourage learning and social participation, then those where there is stress and barriers to development.

 

On the other hand, it is very convenient to make the diagnosis as early as possible. This allows the family to acquire timely information to begin support immediately, which will influence the patient’s evolution. With the intervention of the family group, parents and caregivers, a person with ASD can develop skills to be functional in daily life.

 

Finally, autistic people perceive and react to the world differently, knowing a little more about them helps us to respect them and gives us the possibility to be part of their universe.

What do you think? Comment on our social networks.