Autism spectrum disorder – defined as neurodevelopmental disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association – is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others. Exact causes of autism are not found yet. Environmental factors, medications, infection or complication during pregnancy and genetic mutations can be a reason or trigger for autism spectrum disorder. Children with autism achieve their developmental milestones very late, some early and some not at all.
In early development, children are seen not to respond their names, they do not show basic emotional facial expressions and they do not engage in proper play with toys. They are appeared to be gifted by extraordinary skills but are unable to use them in real world situation because of lack of ability to express and communication. Children with autism spectrum disorder usually have delayed speech and motor skills. They have delayed cognition and learning skills. The have difficulty in eye-hand coordination and even have difficulty maintaining eye contact.
Children with autism spectrum disorder have unusual eating and sleeping habits. They are picky eaters and like selective textures or taste of food and usually have gastrointestinal issues. They have unusual mood or emotional reactions and prone to anxiety, stress or excessive worry. They are either excessively fearful or not fearful at all. They have hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive behaviors. Epileptic or seizure disorders are also seen in children with autism spectrum disorder. Social skills and communication is challenging aspect in autism spectrum disorder.
Verbal and physical imitation is difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder. They cannot pretend to be someone else or a character. Before age of one, these children have difficulty using physical gestures such as hand waving and thumbs up etc. They do not notice people around them joining them in play or share an interest to join them. In early age, they do not notice if someone is hurt or upset around them. They do not demand or point at an object to show interest.
‘Children with autism spectrum disorder are less expressive and communicative. They do not share or show interest in games commonly played by peer group’
Children with autism spectrum disorder avoid and do not maintain eye contact. They are less expressive and communicative. They do not share or show interest in games commonly played by peer group. They are simply not interactive and avoid gatherings. They have different behaviors or interests than the neuro-typical children of their age. They have repetitive or restricted behaviors or patterns such as they line up objects and toys in order to size or colorful pattern and get disturb when the pattern breaks.
These special children keep repeating same words and play with the toys in same way every time. They have self-stimulatory behaviors such as flapping hands, rocking their body, jumping or spinning themselves. They are not comfortable with uncertainty. Their routine must be followed, they get very upset over small and unannounced changes. Instead of whole object, they focus on parts that fascinates them.
These children can be hyper reactive or hypo reactive to sensory input such as apparent indifference to pain or temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smell or touch of objects, visual fascination with lights or movements or they can have unusual interests in sensory stimuli around them. People with autism spectrum disorder are mostly high functioning. With the right training programs, they can live an independent life as any adult and hold a job successfully.