Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped pattern of behaviour. It is a brain disorder that typically affects a person's ability to communicate with others. ASD form of disease generally begins in childhood and last through adulthood.
Types of ASDs are:
ASDs generally begin at or before the age of 3 and last throughout a person's life, even though symptoms may improve over time. Most of the children with an ASD may exhibit hints of future problems within the first few months of life. While others, show symptoms until 24 months or later. Some children with an ASD seem to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had.
A child with an ASD might:
The exact reason for the causes of ASD is not known, but it’s likely to be associated to genetics and environment factors. Number of genes have been identified that are associated with this disorder.
Studies of patients with ASD have also found irregularities in several regions of the brain.
Other studies suggest that people with ASD have abnormal levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters in the brain.
All these abnormalities suggest that ASD could result from the disturbance of normal brain development early in foetal development caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other, possibly due to the influence of environmental factors on gene function.
Diagnosis of ASDs can be difficult as there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Physician may look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.
However, the children might receive an audiologic evaluation and a screening test for autism such as Checklist for autism in toddlers.
There is no cure for the disease. However, it can be managed with the help of medications and specialist education.
Early intervention services can help in child's improvement. These services include that help child talk, walk and interact with others.
Therefore, it is important to talk to child's doctor as soon as possible.