The term "spectrum" in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.
Every child with autism is different. All will have challenges with communication and social skills, but not in the same way. Autism is a spectrum disorder because it can cause mild problems, severe problems, or something in between.
Autism is a lifelong neuro-developmental condition, it means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 2, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences; (as defined by IDEA criterion, 2004)
Causes of Autism
Autism spectrum disorder has no single known cause. Given the complexity of the disorder and the fact that symptoms and severity vary, there are probably many causes.
Comorbid conditions with ASD
There are over different conditions or disorders that are frequently associated with ASD and includes-: ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), anxiety, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, fragile-X syndrome, ID (Intellectual Disability), LD (Learning Disorder), neuro-inflammation and immune disorder, non-verbal learning disorder, schizophrenia, sensory problems, sleep disorders, etc.
Speech and language evaluation
A speech-language evaluation is the measurement of a person’s communication skills. It is done to gain more understanding of a person’s communication skills and needs.
Comprehensive Speech and Language evaluation, which includes a combination of standardized and informal assessments, which assess for following:
- Expressive language (how a person uses language to communicate)
- Receptive language (how a person understands language)
- Social Engagement and Interaction (how a person plays, interacts and/or communicates with others)
- Play behaviour
- Phonemic Awareness (the ability to recognize and manipulate the spoken parts of words)
- Hearing Screening (depending on their age and medical history)
Diagnostic tools for Autism
There are many tools to assess ASD in young children, but no single tool should be used as the basis for diagnosis.
- Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule ( ADOS )
- Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R)
- Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS)
- Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS)
- The Autistic Behavior Composite Checklist and Profile (ABCCP)
- The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals – Revised [CELF]
- Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers - MCHAT
- CHAT-A Screening Tool
- ISAA: Indian Scale for Assessment of Autism
All children with autism have social communication problems. But, not all children with these problems have autism. Knowing which one your child has will help with the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) find’s the best treatment.
Current treatments for ASD seek to reduce symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. ASD affects each person differently, meaning that people with ASD have unique strengths and challenges and different treatment needs. Treatment plans usually involve multiple professionals and treatment programmes are individualized.
There are many types of treatments available. Although some treatments involve more than one approach:
- Behavioral and Communication therapy
- Speech and Language therapy
- Complementary and Alternative
There's no one way fit to prevent autism spectrum disorder, but there are treatment options to reduce severity of symptoms. Early diagnosis and intervention is most helpful and can improve behavior, communication, skills and language development.
However, intervention is helpful at any age. Though children usually don't outgrow autism spectrum disorder symptoms, they may learn to function well and improves quality of life.