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What is autism?

What is autism?

What is autism?

Autism is a different from typical way of human development, manifested by differences in the way people communicate, relate to each other, express emotions, learn, and have a diverse pattern of behavior. Each person with autism is an individual, and the previously mentioned traits can occur in varying degrees. Autism affects many areas of functioning and causes people on the spectrum to develop differently.


Why do we talk about the autism spectrum?

In the case of autism, one speaks of a spectrum of disorders because there is no single pattern of level of functioning that characterizes people with autism. This means that autism can take a completely different form, ranging from mild symptoms to very severe ones that impede functioning in every sphere of life.

Can autism be cured?

Autism accompanies a person for a lifetime, but with the right care and properly selected therapy, functioning can be significantly improved. The earlier the diagnosis and the individual therapy that goes with it, the greater the chance of improving the quality of life for autistic people and their families.

Autism in adults

Typically, autism is diagnosed in the early years of life, while there are times when diagnosis is made only in adults. It uses diagnostic tools and aids adapted to the person's age. Special attention is also paid to the person's daily functioning.

Like children with autism, adults may have difficulties with interpersonal relationships, communicating verbal messages or exhibit an aversion to change. For the quality of their daily lives, the earliest possible diagnosis and therapeutic interventions that allow them to gain skills to live independently, work and function in society are crucial.

Signs and symptoms of autism

The first signs of autism can appear before the age of 3. However, it happens that already in infancy parents notice that their child develops differently. There is no overall pattern of the disorder, but parents should pay close attention to certain behaviors of the child.

How to recognize the first signs of autism?

Your child:

  • Does not speak or has trouble speaking.
  • He doesn't interact and interact with other people.
  • Manifests stereotypical behavior and play (e.g.: waving hands, using unusual objects to play with, arranging toys in long rows).
  • He does not make eye contact.
  • It does not imitate.
  • Does not follow simple commands (e.g., sit, give).
  • He has difficulty focusing attention.

Signals of autism associated with speech and communication disorders

The symptoms of autism largely involve the sphere of communication. The child may have trouble making friends and simply talking to others.

The first of the signals that a parent should pay attention to is the lack of babbling. In addition to the lack of speech onset, it can also be poor facial expressions and infrequent displays of emotion.

Difficulties in establishing contact with the child

Parents of children who are later diagnosed with autism often mention that even in infancy there were times when the child would wander with his eyes and appear absent-minded.

Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder may be evident when parents and peers attempt to engage the child in play or other shared activities. This may include the child's lack of response to a toy given or an object shown. Repeated failure to keep the child interested should prompt parents to investigate what the child's lack of enthusiasm is due to.

Pay particular attention to the child's reaction after attempting to make contact with a smile or saying his name. Repeated lack of response to these messages, can be considered alarming.

 Other signals of the autism spectrum

  • Routine activities. An autistic child's play often follows the same routine, with the same toy, for many hours - so suspicion may be aroused when a child feels comfortable performing a routine activity for an extended period of time.
  • Staring at one point for a long time. This could be staring at the hands of a clock for hours, the laundry in the washing machine or the windshield wipers of a car.
  • Non-attachment to people who periodically appear at home. At first glance, it looks as if the child is ignoring the arrival of a grandmother or aunt, but in fact it may be a signal of a disorder.
  • The child does not like to be touched or even does not allow himself to be touched. Parents should investigate the cause of this behavior and consult a specialist about their concerns.
  • Stereotypical behaviors, such as waving hands for no reason or going in circles for long periods of time. These are quite specific, and parents are able to notice whether it is a momentary game or a cyclically recurring, unwarranted activity.
  • Self-stimulation. These are behaviors designed to provide sensory experiences for themselves. During autostimulation, the child focuses maximum attention on them and is usually unable to focus on processing other stimuli from the environment. These behaviors can stimulate each of the five senses. Examples include jumping up, waving hands, hitting the table, rhythmically swaying in different directions or walking in a circle.
    Self-stimulation can occur continuously, or occur only at specific times such as when bored, anxious or feeling stressed.
  • Living in a pattern. People with autism very often develop behavioral patterns that allow them to find their way through typical activities, such as pouring the same amount of drink into a glass or always dressing in the same order. These patterns often resemble rituals that involve everyday situations, such as going to the store, going to school or even asking the same question. A child with autism may expect the same answer every time they are asked. In addition, people on the spectrum become very attached to a point-by-point daily schedule that gives them a sense of calm and security. The punctuality of each scheduled activity is important to them. It can lead them to great anxiety when a previously developed schedule cannot come to fruition.

Autism is an ocean of possibilities. The symptoms mentioned are only indications - they can appear in children with autism in different configurations and severity. If you notice any of these in your child, ask for a referral to a facility that offers diagnosis or use private clinics.

The M-CHAT- R/F screening test is used to assess the risk of autism spectrum disorders. The tools can be used both by a specialist in the diagnosis process and as part of follow-up visits to a family doctor, as well as at home by a parent. A diagnosis of autism can only be made by a specialist.

Let's remember that autism affects all of life. That's why acceptance and understanding is so important. Because together we can create a better world for autistic people!

You can help too As few as 1 in 100 children have autism. Change their lives for the better. I'm helping