Autism Spectrum Disorder: Factors, Types And Symptoms
Autism spectrum disorder or ASD is known as a disability that affects development and can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. These problems have different levels and may be considered either mild, severe, or in between the two. It is best to have an early diagnosis because this allows for early treatments and can make a big difference. I chose this disability as my topic for my research paper because I have five boys in my family who, unfortunately, have this disorder. In addition to this, in the year two thousand eighteen the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also known as CDC determined that approximately “1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).”(DaShaun,2005) Autism is not caused by just one factor, in fact, some of the risks include a combination of both genetic and nongenetic influences as well as environmental.
One of the genetic risk factors of autism is that it could potentially run in families. Research suggests that if there are changes in certain genes then there is an increasing risk that a child will likely develop ASD. If one of the child’s parents has at least one of the gene changes then they may get passed down to the child whether or not the parent has ASD. Some of the other increased risk factors are “advanced” parent age for either parent, pregnancy and birth complications such as prematurity and low birth weight, and pregnancies that are spaced less than one year apart. (DaShaun,2005) Despite speculation on vaccines being the number one cause of autism, it is not true. Several parents and families have deemed vaccines to be the cause of their children’s autistic disability and because of this fear, many of them have become anti vaccinators. This term means that they may accept vaccines but still aren’t sure of their use, they delay having their child vaccinated, or completely refuse to vaccinate them. However, there has been extensive research on whether or not vaccines really do cause autism, and it turns out it doesn’t. The Autism Speaks organization provides a number of facts on their website and one of them states, “scientists have conducted an extensive research over the last two decades to determine whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.” (DaShaun,2005)
There are a few different types of autism that are Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive developmental disorder, Autistic Disorder, and Childhood disintegrative disorder. Asperger syndrome is basically an aspect of autism that is on the milder side, so it isn’t as severe. (La Roche, 2018) People with Asperger’s Syndrome a generally independent and can do things on their own as they have a higher functioning ability. They have difficulty socializing unless it concerns a topic, they have strong interests in, which allows them to converse with ease. The pervasive developmental disorder is a bit more severe than Asperger’s while Autistic disorder is another name for Autism. Lastly, Childhood disintegrative disorder is when a child may develop normally up to age three or four but after a while, they begin to lose motor skills, social skills, and even language. (La Roche, 2018)
Symptoms of autism range from social challenges, communication challenges, and repetitive behaviors. These symptoms typically begin when the child is very young. Social challenges include expressing their emotions and feeling overwhelmed when in social settings. Some communication challenges are eye contact, facial expressions, and even tone of voice. Repetitive behaviors include the need for a steady routine such as the same schedule daily and body movements like walking back and forth or spinning around. (DaShaun,2005)
As I mentioned earlier, detecting symptoms of autism early is best because then you are able to begin treatments as soon as possible. The are several different treatments for autism, like therapy, medications, as well as specialists. There are educational, behavioral, and family therapies that could potentially reduce these symptoms and also assist with learning. (Hillman,2006) With the different types of therapies, they can help with behavior analysis and allow these families to communicate better. In addition to this, there are specialists, specifically a speech therapist that can help autistic people with speech and language disabilities. Some medications are provided just to help those with ASD to focus and other related symptoms. Although there isn’t a cure for this particular disability or medication, experts do recommend that parents use a combination of behavioral therapies and medication. (Hillman,2006)
Unfortunately, “Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.” (DaShaun,2005) For some reason, studies have shown that girls are diagnosed with autism later on in life as opposed to boys. This revelation indicates that autism symptoms are a little bit more difficult to find in females. Majority of children are typically diagnosed after age four, however, ASD can be diagnosed as early as age two. At one-point autism was considered a rare disability but it seems as though the rate has been on the rise over the past few years. Data analyzed by the CDC suggests that “2.4 percent of American children between the ages of 3 and 17—or 1 in 41—have been diagnosed with autism, a figure that is higher than most earlier estimates of about 1.46 percent or 1 in 68 children.” (CDC,2019) Thankfully, we have been able to develop therapies and other treatments that help focus on autistic people and this disability, but we still have a long way to go.
In addition to this, with the new technology that has been created, it allows autistic people to communicate with others by using photos, symbols, and even sounds. Some of the popular apps used by families are “Autism Read & Write”, “LetMeTalk”, and “BirdHouse”. ( La Roche, 2018) The apps created for people with ASD are basically a set of photos that they can choose from and once they are done, they click the sound button which enables the voice to read off their sentence that they have formed. On the other hand, there are apps for parents who have children with ASD, and it assists them with planning, appointment schedules, and more.
Every year the month of April is declared national autism awareness month and it is represented by a blue puzzle piece or a ribbon with a combination of different colored puzzle pieces. The puzzle ribbon was created in the year nineteen ninety-nine as the sign of autism awareness. With the Autism Awareness Ribbon, the various colored puzzle pieces represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition and the brightness of the ribbon signals hope. (DaShaun, 2005) There has been an immense amount of support for autistic people from families, friends, and even strangers all over the world. Every year when the walk for Autism Speaks takes place in different cities around the U.S the number of people who join increases.
I have had the pleasure of attending a few of the Autism Speaks walks over the past few years here in Massachusetts at the Xfinity Center. I do have to say that I was surprised at the number of people who attended to support their loved ones who have been diagnosed with autism. The aura of the event was truly lovely just seeing a diversity of families uniting, supporting, understanding, and relating to each other is beautiful. It isn’t a place where people feel bad for themselves or others who have ASD it is somewhere where people feel loved and understood, everyone has fun and food and drinks are provided as well as music. It is a day where people who have ASD are celebrated and can be themselves.
Ultimately, although the autism spectrum disorder has had an alarmingly increasing rate of diagnoses the good news is there have then an extensive amount of research done on this disability. Doctors have not discovered a cure however there are treatments as well as recommendations 2 help expecting parents from having a child cool may have autism. With this information, I believe that parents of autistic children may feel less worried because they will be provided with some of the best methods to help their child.
- Hillman, J. (2006). Supporting and treating families with children on the autistic spectrum: The unique role of the generalist psychologist. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 43(3), 349–358. https://doi-org.libserv-prd.bridgew.edu/10.1037/0033-3184.108.40.2069
- La Roche, M. J., Bush, H. H., & D’Angelo, E. (2018). The assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorder: A cultural examination. Practice Innovations, 3(2), 107–122. https://doi-org.libserv-prd.bridgew.edu/10.1037/pri0000067
- M., S., DaShaun, V., D., Chris, & Leonardo. (n.d.). Autism Speaks. Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org/.
- National Autism Awareness Month. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.autism-society.org/get-involved/national-autism-awareness-month/.
- What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? (2019, August 27). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html.