Define Autism? Not an Easy Task

 

Define Autism

Define Autism? A tough task for a complicated disorder.

Define Autism

Autism is a complex developmental disorder which has many specific characteristics and symptoms in children which may include impaired ability to communicate, emotional detachment, impaired social function skills and behavior issues.

Autism is generally associated with younger children who exhibit the signs and symptoms early in life at around the age of three years. It’s at this time that Autism will begin to affect how the child processes information in their brain and the symptoms then begin to become more noticeable.

Autism is what they call a spectrum disorder. Basically this means that the degree of the disorder can vary where a child can be very autistic or only exhibit minimal signs of autism. In between the two ends of the spectrum there are varied levels of autism, each having specific characteristics that define the severity. The term you will hear most often is ASD or Autistic Spectrum Disorder which refers to the wide range of disorders that a child can develop which include classic or Kannerian autism, Asperger Syndrome (which is at one end of the spectrum), pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rhett syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and child disintegrative disorder. Each of these levels (so to speak) of autism can vary greatly and ultimately defines the challenges that the individual child will encounter as they move through life.

Autism is also characterized by many physical and non-verbal signs which include sleeplessness, gastrointestinal issues, hyperactivity and eating disorders while some children have no real major symptoms at all. Some children will begin to become withdrawn and emotionally detached while others express none of these symptoms at all. Again this goes back to the level on the spectrum and the severity of the disorder. In addition, an autistic child’s mental functioning can also vary greatly as some children are considered genius and gifted while others may fall to the other side of the spectrum and be severely challenged. It’s a complex disorder and to define or pinpoint it is difficult at best.

So the question becomes why or how does a child develop autism? The simple answer is that there is no simple answer, only speculation. Many believe it’s a result of genetics while others believe autism is caused by things in the environment such as foods and vaccinations. However there is currently no medical evidence to support a specific theory which is why most of what you read or are told is best guess or theory.

There are a number of resources online where parents can learn more about autism and here are a few of the better ones:

Autism.com
Autism Treatment Center
Autism Society
First Signs
Autism Research Network
Autism Link
Asperger Syndrome
Autism Speaks

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