What is Autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. It is a disorder which causes a stunting in the development of interpersonal relationships.
There are different classifications along the spectrum, with the extremes now called low-functioning and high-functioning autism. Most children with Autism start speaking later than their peers, and a few never speak at all. Autism also generally causes a need to engage in repetitive behaviours or language.
What causes it?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurobiological disorder which comes as a result of abnormalities in brain structure. Like many other disorders, the exact cause of Autism is not known. Many researchers are investigating whether biochemical imbalances and genetic factors may be the source of the disorder.
What is clear is that Autism is not caused by psychological factors, which is why there are many autistic children with very high IQ.
What is it not?
As mentioned before, a diagnosis of Autism is not a sign of someone's level of intelligence. Autism is also not a self-imposed set of behaviours from a child who doesn't want friends. This type of thinking can cause unplanned alienation of autistic children.
Autism is also not a condition which only affects children. It can either grow up with children into their adult years or can even be recognized later in life. Although it's approximately 5 times more likely for males to be diagnosed with Autism, it shouldn't be mistaken as a 'boy's disease'.
Signs & Symptoms
Common indicators of Autism include.
Unusual and obsessive play with toys and other objects.
Difficult interpreting what others are thinking or feeling.
Delayed speech development, or not at all.
Not responsive to being called by their own name.
Repetitive body movements and behaviour patterns.
Difficulty regulating emotion.
Avoids eye contact.
Issues picking up on social cues.
Trouble keeping conversations going.
Hard time adjusting to change in routine or environment.
Difficulty expressing romantic attraction.
- Trouble translating implied non-verbal language.
Autism plagues the Caribbean at an even greater rate than it does the United States, with 1 child in every 110 born in Jamaica being diagnosed with autism. There are many studies going on towards identifying the source of Autism, but what researchers agree on is the importance of early interventions. The earlier any speech development issues are identified, the better the child's chances of development in the future.
Spark Learning offers autism screening assessments because we know how important it is to get both a swift diagnosis and treatment plan for your child. Our aim is to help catch any irregular behaviours as soon as possible.
If you or someone you know are experiencing these issues, take our online preliminary diagnosis, or schedule an appointment.