What is it?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a term describing a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, including Autism, Asperger, and more. Patients with ASD demonstrate difficulties with communication and social interaction and exhibit restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behaviors. It is estimated that 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with ASD, with a higher occurrence in boys (4 to 1 male-to-female ratio). There is no single cause for ASD, and both genetic and environmental factors are involved.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Asperger's Syndrome
- Infantile Autism
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
- Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms are usually evident since early childhood, between 12 to 24 months of age. Symptoms are divided into two categories: social and communication symptoms and behavioral symptoms.
Difficulties with Social and communication include:
- Verbal communication – difficulties with sharing emotions and making conversations.
- Nonverbal communication – poor eye contact and diminished understanding of body language and facial expressions.
- Relationships creation and maintenance.
Behavioral symptoms include:
- Stereotypical behaviors – repetitive movements or speech patterns.
- Self-injury behaviors – head-banging, hair-pulling, or self-biting.
- Difficulties with change – adherence to rigid routines, and distress when deviating from it.
- Restricted interests
- Oversensitivity to different stimuli such as sounds, smells, touch.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made via different tests and evaluations, including:
- Behavioral assessment by a specialized physician.
- Developmental evaluation.
- DNA testing
- Visual and hearing tests to exclude other diseases.

Treatment

Autism is a chronic disorder, and treatments are focused on improving life quality and easing the patients’ symptoms. Treatments include speech therapy, behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, play therapy, and meditation techniques. Patients with ASD may respond differently to various therapies, and the treatment should be adjusted to the patient.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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