It is unknown how autism affects different parts of the brain, but autism is a condition that most parents must recognize especially when their child turns three. It is believed that this condition is highly genetic in origin, although it is a highly complex hypothesis. The symptoms for autism are three-fold and would help differentiate it from other conditions, such as the pervasive developmental disorders.
Lack of social skills. Children with autism usually do not respond to their names when called. They have no interest in making or meeting friends. They do not engage in activities such as playing with others. Sometimes they might exhibit inappropriate hostile outbursts. They might appear to be intentionally rude and often take people for granted. They do not react appropriately to facial expressions and would detach themselves from the family unit. You can observe this easily when they do not point at objects, talk gibberish or mirror the facial expressions of the people who talk to them.
Inadequate language development. Almost half of children with autism exhibit parrot-like repetition of any word that they have recently heard. Usually, they learn to speak late, at round two or three years old. Some of them speak really slowly but cannot communicate effectively with others. Most of the time they do not maintain eye contact when speaking.
They have difficulty in elocution. Monotonous speech is also a characteristic of autistic speech. These children have difficulty controlling their vocal pitch and volume. Aside from elocution, they have other learning difficulties. There are obvious delays in learning compared to children of their age. Sometimes, they can read complex words but are unable to recognize consonants and vowels. Their inability to communicate with others can cause them extreme frustration, such that they turn to destructively expressing themselves physically, such as biting.
Focus and interests
- Obsession with objects. Autistic children will not play with their toys creatively. They would usually line them up obsessively or focus only on a particular part of the toy. The intense concentration makes them exclude others. They are usually attached to a particular toy or object.
- Inattention to sensory stimulus. These children take on hyperactive behavior and other activities that involve excessive repetitive limb movement like flapping, walking on tiptoes, or rubbing feet for example. Children with autism have abnormal responses to sensory stimulation. For example, they might stare at bright lights or become engrossed in environmental noise.
- Routine rituals. These children consider rituals very important. They will follow the precise procedures for the ritual. They usually have temper tantrums when their routines are altered. They usually prefer to eat the same type of food and position on the same side of the table every mealtime.
There is no known cure for autism. Despite this grim fact, early detection and initiation of treatment can do wonders. Sometimes, intensive treatment and social therapy work for children. The prognosis for some adults that have received therapy looks promising, as they lead independent lives.