What is Autism?

Autism represents a large group of developmental disorders. Some effects include impaired social interactions, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, repetitive behavior, and severly limited activities and interests.1 in 150 children in the United States have autism and autism rates are increasing at a rate of 10 to 17 percent every year. Autism is four times more common in boys than girls.

Symptoms of Autism

The most widely known symptom is imparied social interactions. This can result in children with Autism not making eye contact, and not understanding other's expressions or reactions during social situations. Repetitive movement is also a common symptom and can result in rocking, spinning, twirling, jumping, hand biting, and head banging. About half the children with Autism will have mental retardation, and 25 percent will develop seizures. Children can show signs of autism from the time they are born, to when they are about 18 months old. Physical alterations are also symptoms of autism such as small head size or structural brain malformations.

Treatment for Autism

Although there is no cure for autism, it can be managed with therapy and many social interactions. Therapy involves both medical and behavioral treatments that help them with holding conversations, and decreasing their repetitive behavior. The medical part of the therapy help treat aggressive behavior, inattention, poor sleep, and repetitive behavior.

How Autism is Diagnosed

A diagnosis is made when the child is shown with experiencing many symptoms of autism. From there, tests are given, such as Childhood Autism Rating Scale, the Autism Behavior Checklist, and the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale. If physical alterations are present, or the family has a history of autism, chromosome anaylsis and single-gene testing is done.

Causes of Autism

Scientists are not sure what the cause is for autism, but it's more than likely that both the enviroment and genetics play a large role. Researcher have found a number of genes associated with autism. When the cause of autism is a chromosome abnormality or a single-gene alteration, the risk that other brothers and sisters will also have autism depends on the specific genetic cause. However, the majority of causes of autism is idiopathic (unknown).