Millions of people around the globe battle mental health issues on a yearly basis. In the past, parents and even the individual themselves wouldn’t talk about mental illnesses because they weren’t seriously back then, but now it is time that we spread awareness because people die every year or commit suicide because the mental issues that they face on a daily basis that the rest of the world fails to understand.
May was declared as the Mental Health Awareness Month but still, there are people who feel that it is better to ignore the problem instead of facing it. Autism Spectrum Disorder is one of the most common mental disorders that we see today. So let us shed some light on it because you will never know whether you or your loved ones are suffering from it or not until you gain some knowledge about it.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurobehavioral condition which is characterized by impairments in communication, social interaction, repetitive behavior, and non-verbal communication. Due to the wide range of symptoms associated with the disorder, it is known as the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
An interesting thing about individuals that suffer from Autism Disorder is that they might face a number of differences, but at the same time, these individuals also have some great and unique strength. Autism is mostly diagnosed at the age of 2 when the child is still developing. The disorder affects the rate of development in the child and parents can easily point out some of the common symptoms.
We might ignore the fact that mental illness is real and is spreading at an immense rate, but that won’t change the fact that 1 in 59 kids in the United States suffers from Autism. According to the research carried out by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, the disorder is five times more common in boys as compared to girls. Every 1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls suffers from the disorder and they might not even know about it.
Types of Autism Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder covers a wide range of speech and motor challenges which is why it is spread across a spectrum so that the doctors can check the level of impairments that the individual is suffering from. Every individual is affected differently, which is why there is no way of comparing one with the other.
Although doctors did come up with three major disorders which cover almost all the autism-related disorders, but every patient is treated according to the major category that he/she fits in. So let us look at the types of Autism Disorder.
Autistic Disorder is the most common disorder that affects Autism patients. People, who suffer from it, mostly face difficulty in communicating. They might experience language delays and troubles getting a grip on social skills. Some of them might also suffer from an intellectual disability. Kids diagnosed with Autistic Disorder often have some unusual interests and behaviors and they might not like to interact with others or participate in group activities.
Asperger Syndrome is a quite interesting disorder in which diagnosed individuals are quite intellectual and smart which is why it is also sometimes known as the little professor syndrome. Individuals suffering from this disorder are at the higher functioning end of the spectrum. Speech development in such individuals takes place normally, whereas they do find difficulty communicating with others. An individual at an early age can cope with the disorder, but as the individual grows older the communication expectations rise, which make it difficult for the individuals to fit in the society.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder
People, who don’t fall in the category of Autistic Disorder or Asperger Syndrome, fall under the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorder. This is a mild type of Autism Disorder in which individuals only suffer from communication challenges. Motor or verbal challenges are not seen in individuals who suffer from Pervasive Developmental Disorder which is a good thing.
Causes of Autism Disorder
One of the main reasons behind the widespread of Autism Disorder is that scientist and doctors are still unaware of the factors that cause the disorder. They believe that it is most likely caused due to a mixture of environmental, genetic and non-genetic influences. So let us look at some of the most common factors that might be causing Autism.
Genetic Risk Factors
It is believed that there are certain genes that affect the rate of development of the child which might result in Autism. The genetic factor might also be the reason behind the widespread of the disease which means that if either of the parents is diagnosed with autism then the risk of the child getting autism increases. Your kid can be either diagnosed with the disorder or he might be carrying the gene for the next generation. In both ways, it is something that parents would like to avoid.
Environmental Risk Factor
Our environment is changing. In the past air, water and land used to be pure, but now there are a number of harmful impurities causing a number of fatal diseases. Scientists believe that individuals who carry the autism gene are more susceptible to developing the disorder if they are exposed to extreme environmental conditions.
The environment can affect the Autism patients positively and negatively for which it is better to avoid harmful or extreme environments during pregnancy if you already have someone suffering from autism in your family.
There are certain medical conditions that might be the cause of autism in kids. According to the research kids that suffer from other serious disorders such as Down Syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis, Fragile X Syndrome, and Chromosomal Disorders are more likely to get Autism Disorder as well.
Intake of Drugs During Pregnancy
Drugs can also affect the early development of the kid in the embryo. Mothers who intake harmful drugs during pregnancy, increase the risk of autism in the developing child. Most drugs that cause ASD are illegal, but there are some prescription drugs as well that might also cause autism and thalidomide is one of them.
Autism Therapies and Support
Every individual who suffers from autism shows different symptoms which is why there isn’t any single treatment or therapies that treat autism. It is a mental disorder and it is hardly treated fully because a treatment that is effective for one patient isn’t effective for the other one which is why doctors have to come up with new treatment plans for every patient based on their level of impairments.
Treatments are planned, mostly compromise of speech-language therapy, social skills training, behavior therapy, and occupational therapy. Again, it depends on the impairments that the kid is facing. There are some support groups out there as well where kids suffering from autism can fit in and there are groups for parents as well because it is not easy for the parents as well to deal with a mentally disabled child.
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