Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a form of developmental delay that may be genetic in nature, although the exact mechanism of autism development is unknown. According to the current opinion, autism is the result of the interaction of many factors.
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People with autism spectrum disorder behave differently, interact with the outside world, and learn differently. Their skills are also different.
The time frame for the onset of autism symptoms can vary from 12 to 24 months. Sometimes the child's development process proceeds normally until 18-24 months, and only after that the opportunities to acquire new skills and adapt to the environment stop.
The problems of children with autism spectrum disorder continue into adolescence and adulthood. They often have difficulty making or keeping friends, communicating with peers and adults, and most importantly, understanding emotions and expected outcomes. Anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and/or attention deficit problems are common, which sometimes become the first reason for consulting a doctor.
- Does not make eye contact
- At the age of 9 months, he does not respond to the name
- At the age of 9 months, he does not express emotions through behavior or facial expressions
- At the age of 12 months, he does not play simple interactive games (ball throwing-catch, clapping)
- At 12 months old, gestures little or not at all (doesn't wave goodbye)
- At the age of 15-18 months, he does not show interest in things (do not point him to interesting things, toys)
- At the age of 2, he does not notice the emotions of others by facial expressions, voice, actions
- At the age of 3, he does not play with other children. Does not share toys
- Does not play role-playing games at age 4 (mother, teacher)
- At the age of 5, he doesn't sing, he dances with you
- Arranges toys in one row and always plays with the same scenario
- repeating the same sounds or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Focuses on a single detail of an object/toy, eg the wheels of a car
- Has specific, limited areas of interest
- Repeats the same routine – has obsessive actions (rocking, spinning)
- Has an unusual reaction to touch, sound, emotion, smell, taste.
- Delay in speech development
- Delay in the development of motor skills
- Delay in the development of cognitive (learning) skills
- Hyperactive, impulsive, or inattentive behavior
- Violation of eating and sleeping habits
- Contrasting emotions (excessive anxiety or complete indecision)
- Inadequate fear reactions (excessive fear or its complete absence)
Autism diagnostics is based on an interview with the parent/guardian, observation of the child in different environments and assessment tools: ADOS-2, ADI-R, CARS-2. These instruments assess a child's level of development in various skills. Data from each of these are sufficient to rule out autism, but insufficient to confirm the diagnostics. Therefore, diagnostics requires a multidisciplinary, complex approach.
The specificity of the treatment of autism spectrum disorders is determined by the identified disorders and is aimed at reducing the existing symptoms and improving the quality of life of the child (and his environment).
Forms of therapy:
- Behavioral – focuses on the causes and consequences of the child's actions
- Developmental - a combination of sensory integration, speech, occupational therapy
- Educational - for the improvement of learning processes, visual and demonstrative
- Social – focuses on building social skills and emotional connections
- Pharmacological - there is no medical treatment for autism, however, in the case of this or that disorder (eg: anxiety, depression), it is necessary to include pharmacotherapy in the treatment process.
- Psychological-cognitive therapy ensures the correction of behavioral disorders associated with emotion
- Additional and alternative methods include: art therapy, ride therapy (riding a horse), chiropractic
The selection of the form of treatment is individual, as well as the results of therapy and depends on many factors.