Children that belong to the autistic spectrum are often misunderstood as parents and adults around them have a limited understanding of this disorder. Adults struggle with communication, get frustrated, don’t know how to handle their child’s education. This can compromise their child’s health and development, which is why it is important to increase awareness regarding autism.
If parents gain a better understanding, they will be better-equipped to help kids adjust to everyday life and activities. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation and unhelpful advice out there. It’s dangerous to rely on just internet research, regardless of how reliable the source of information is.
The amount of data available can be overwhelming and only leads to parents or adults making decisions that might harm their children. The best way to address this situation is to consult with a professional who has experience working with autistic children. Here’s a brief guideline of what you need to know about autism in children:
What is Autism?
Autism is not one disorder, but a name given to a group of complex mental disorders. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a blanket term but can manifest itself in different ways, affecting a child’s ability to socialize, communicate verbally or non-verbally, and control their behavior rationally. One of the most common characteristics of children with this disorder is repetitive motions. Some of the common symptoms of different types of autism are:
• Intellectual disability
• Difficulties with motor function
• Trouble focusing and paying attention
• Problems with sleeping
• Problems with speech
• Physical health concerns like gastrointestinal problems
Autistic children sometimes develop a natural flair for music, art, math, and other visual talents. Some autistic children are savants and have exceptional skills in a particular field. This is rare and only develops in one person among a million.
Types of Autism
As mentioned earlier, there are different kinds of autism and all of them impact a child’s life differently.
•Autistic disorder or classic autism – This is the most recognizable form of autism and what comes to a person’s mind when the disorder is mentioned. A child will face severe challenges with speech, social interactions, and communication. They will often exhibit unusual behavior and develop strange interests. Classic autism also hampers intellectual ability. This manifests early in a child’s life and is immediately recognizable.
•High-functioning autism–This is similar to classic autism and all symptoms are the same. However, instead of low intellectual ability, children with high-functioning autism display average or above average intelligence levels. However, they are likely to develop other problems like epilepsy or Fragile X syndrome.
•Rett syndrome – This develops in girls almost exclusively and is a very severe form of autism. Children first display the signs of classical autism like communication difficulties, compromised intellectual ability, etc. But as they grow older, the symptoms include strange gait, teeth grinding, slow growth, slow cognitive abilities, physical degeneration, motor skill delays, and several other problems. In the final stages, this form of autism can be severely damaging.
•Childhood disintegrative disorder–Children experience normal development until the age of two, after which there is a decline in their development. They lose the skills they have learned, experience sudden behavioral changes, lose bowel or bladder control, and lose their socialization skills. The regression will eventually stop but the lost skills can’t be regained.
•Pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified or PDD-NOS) – These children display certain autistic behavioral tendencies and struggle with socialization, communication, and learning. This happens in different developmental stages early in a child’s life, which usually causes a considerable amount of confusion to the child.
•Asperger syndrome – This is a milder form of autism and doesn’t have much of an impact on a child’s education, development, or growth because their intelligence and language develop normally. They will still experience severe social challenges, struggle to make friendships or develop relationships, have odd speech patterns, struggle with non-verbal communication, have obsessive routines, and be extremely sensitive to environmental stimuli. Parents notice Asperger’s late in a child’s life as the symptoms manifest between 5 to 9 years of age.
How Does a Child Get Autism?
Recent research suggests that there’s no one cause of autism. Genetic mutations are often the cause of this disorder. Scientists have identified over a hundred genes associated with autism. They are now able to identify which specific gene might have caused autism in a person 15% of the time; this percentage will only grow as technology advances.
In most cases, autism develops because of a complex combination of genetic and environmental risk factors. These factors affect early brain development which can lead to different types of autism disorders. Here are some factors researchers have identified:
•A genetic predisposition for autism
•Maternal illness during pregnancy
•Extremely premature birth
•Low birth weight
•Oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain
•Mothers exposed to high levels of pesticides, pollutions, and an unhealthy environment
Some research suggests that mothers that take prenatal vitamins containing folic acid before and after conception have children with lower risk of autism. Despite what rumors suggest, there is no connection between autism and vaccinations.
Several studies from highly reputable institutions and organizations have clearly proven this fact. It is important to vaccinate your child according to modern conventions to ensure they and the children around them remain protected from highly dangerous diseases.
Support is Essential
Support from an early age can help autistic children develop self-reliance and overcome much of their struggles. A good environment, proper nurturing, and specialized education will go a long way in improving their quality of life and help them thrive. Many autistic individuals succeed, have a stellar education, and are able to support themselves well.
Las Vegas doesn’t have many resources available for such children and the environment here can be triggering for some because of all the external stimulus. There are few, yet good organizations that help children and provide them with a safe environment as well as activities they can be part of. It’s important for parents to find an organization that suits their child’s requirements and offers a supportive environment. We hope to be the platform that your children will feel safe in, learn and have fun!