Autism, right now it’s one of the most heard words! Most of us already know something or many thing about it. But as it’s a sensitive concern we all need to have a clear concept regarding this emerging issue.
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder.
It refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today. According to national level study in Bangladesh (2013) prevalence of Autism is 1.5/1000; its 30/1000 at Dhaka. It’s alarming for us specially for those who live in urban area.
Usually the symptoms begin to appear within 18 to 36 months of age. No specific cause of autism is found yet; genetic & environmental factors play a vital role. Also maternal infection in pregnancy (measles, rubella), low birth weight baby, maternal & child malnutrition, advanced age in either parent can cause it.
Autism has a spectrum of clinical presentation. There are some symptoms that can alert us & can help us being aware of Autism.
Always look for following symptoms if these are present in your child’s behaviour, interests or activities :
- Doesn’t respond with a smile, happy expression or words by 6 months.
- Doesn’t mimic any sound, smile or facial expressions by 9 months.
- Doesn’t babble or coo by 12 months.
- No response to name, doesn’t play peak- a boo, no gestures such as waving, pointing or showing by 12 months.
- Not saying single word by 16 months.
- No meaningful two words phrases and no imitation of day to day activities by 24 months.
- Absence of age appropriate social interaction
- Fixates on an object or activity with abnormal intensity or focus.
- Not playing with other children or no interest in making friends.
- Restricted and repetitive behaviour or movement
- Loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences.
If you notice any of these symptoms expressed by your growing child, consult with your nearest relevant health care centre or specialist at earliest convenience. Seek help as soon as you suspect something’s wrong. The earlier children with ASD get help, the greater their chance of treatment success. Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your child’s development and reduce the symptoms of autism over the lifespan.
Dr. Refat Ilma