Autism Spectrum Disorder encompasses any diagnosis involving Autism, Asperger’s, and Atypical Autism. There are varying levels of functioning associated with Autism based on a child’s intelligence, language ability, speech performance, and other capabilities. Signs of Autism are most likely to appear in the first three years of life. The common theme among those with Autism is their lack of awareness and understanding of other people’s feelings, or a failure to develop empathy.
- Strange eating or sleeping patterns
- Obscure or limited interests
- Abnormal social interaction
- Restricted communication and use of language
- Expert (savant) level skills in very specific fields
- Below average cognitive performance
- Lack of imaginative play (pretend play)
- Odd and inappropriate statements
- Echolalia (repeating statements back to their speaker)
- Difficulty making eye contact
In some cases there can be medical causes for ASD, like a genetic defect in chromosomal development. Some chemicals are even thought to cause Autism if a fetus is exposed to them during pregnancy. It is also possible for a child to present no physical abnormalities and have a normal IQ but still show symptoms of Autism. The biggest factor is genetics, with certain children being more at risk based on a family history of other disorders.
Medication can be effective but is only able to treat the symptoms of ASD. Behavioral conditioning is more helpful because it teaches children with Autism how to use certain social skills and tools to increase their functioning level and decrease undesired behaviors.