Social and emotional development are vital parts of how we interact with the world and how we see ourselves, and the process of building those skills starts when we’re very young. Within our first few years, we develop our ability to share with others, control our emotions, listening, and following instructions, all of which help to build how we interact with others, how we learn in school, and build other cognitive functions we need as we get older.
Developmental disabilities can make learning these important skills more difficult, and about 1 in 36 children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (specifically autism), a developmental disability due to key differences in how their brains work. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions and confusion about how the condition affects children, its causes and other important things about this developmental problem. Let’s try to get the facts by examining what autism is, its causes and signs, and what people frequently get wrong about it.
If you live in the Woodlands or Kingwood, Texas, area and your child is showing signs of autism, Dr. Ahti Venkatesh and his experienced team at Kingwood Psychiatry can help your child cope with the condition as they grow.
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a broad range of conditions that affect social and emotional development, and leads to perceiving things differently and a range of symptoms like repetitive behaviors, issues with socializing, and nonverbal communication. Autism is one of many conditions that fit this description, and others include Asperger’s syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder.
Those dealing with autism frequently display different types of learning, interacting and communicating skills. However, the range of behaviors varies in each person, with some speaking normally while others don’t speak at all, for example. Autism often starts before three years of age and can last a lifetime.
This condition is thought to have both genetic and environmental factors, with some genetic disorders and mutations playing a role (Rett syndrome, fragile X syndrome), and certain genes can impact brain development. Environmental issues are still being researched, but there is speculation that viral infections, medications, or pregnancy complications may also be possible factors.
There are a range of social and behavioral difficulties that are symptomatic of autism in children, including not responding to being called, not smiling, making sounds, making faces, and not using common gestures such as reaching and waving. Restrictive behaviors are also typical, like sensory aversions (sounds, picky eating), severe reactions to changes in routine, and lining up and playing with toys the same way each time.
Here are some things people often get wrong about autism:
We’ve covered a little of this already, but because there is a spectrum of symptoms and severity with this illness, and different factors to cause it to begin with, two people are not likely to have the same experience.
While there are some parts of the world that don’t have access to the proper care for autism, leading them to struggle with more severe problems, in America most people with it live relatively normal lives.
Simply speaking, it does not. Dozens of studies have tried to establish a link, but no evidence for any connection between the two has ever been found.
Actually, as we learn more about how the disorder works, diagnosing it in adults is becoming easier to do.
While it’s true fewer girls than boys become autistic, it’s still pretty common in both. In fact, girls are more likely to be misdiagnosed than boys.
Autism can seem like a daunting thing to help your child cope with, but it helps to know what is fact and what is fiction when finding out more about it. If your child is struggling with autism, make an appointment with Dr. Vankatesh and Kingwood Psychiatry today to get them the help they need.