FAQs regarding individuals diagnosed with ASD.
While it is perfectly reasonable to feel slightly overwhelmed by the amount of information you have to start learning, we can assure you that it is a manageable situation, as long as you find and use the right resources.
In this post, we’ve put together frequently asked questions about ASD, to equip you with information that will help you along on your journey with ASD.
Parents dealing with a child’s recent ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnosis are often faced with question and doubt. If that describes you, we would like you to take a minute to read this blog.
1.What causes ASD?
The cause for ASD is not yet known, however we do know of certain factors that can cause ASD
Genetic risk factors: Genetic factors play an important role in the etiology of ASD. Studies have found that the pervasiveness of autism in siblings of children with ASD is relatively 15 to 30 times higher than the rate in general population. It seems that no single gene could be a cause for ASD. Alternatively, it is recorded that multiple genes are involved and each of them could be a risk factor for ASD.
Prenatal and perinatal risk factors: There are several prenatal and perinatal complications which have been reported to be a possible risk factor for ASD. Although research is not conclusive on the relation of these factors to ASD, each of the factors was identified more frequently in children with ASD compared to their siblings. Also, low levels of vitamin D in early development has been speculated as a risk factor for ASD.
Vaccine controversy: There have been speculations that ASD results from brain damage caused either by the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine itself or by thimerosal, which is a vaccine preservative. Nevertheless, no convincing scientific documentation supports these claims, and also scientific evidence continues to contradict them.
2. I think my child / I may have ASD, but I'm not sure. How can I find out?
ASD severity is not same with every child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for ASD between 18 and 24 months of age. Various features of ASD include difficulties in displaying social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.
3. How common is ASD?
ASD continues to be almost five times more common among boys i.e, 1 in 42 than among girls 1 in 189, according to a report that included all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Studies have been conducted in various continents like Asia, Europe, and North America that report a prevalence rate of approximately 1 percent. ASD affects over 3 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide.
4. How does ASD affect behavior?
“Triad of Impairments” is usually how ASD is portrayed - it means that three areas of development are affected, namely communication, social interaction, and repetitive and stereotyped behavior. Each of these can be considered to be linked to specific behavioral difficulties. If your child has difficulties in understanding language or finds it very hard to express what they need, it means they might be having a communication impairment.
As they have difficulties with interacting at a social level, individuals with ASD often tend to behave in ways which might seem inappropriate to their friends and people around them. Individuals with ASD may exhibit behavior patterns such as standing too close, not making proper eye contact while communicating or engaging in one-sided conversations where only they speak and leaving when others are talking to them.
5. How is ASD diagnosis different from other diagnoses?
How do you know an individual has ASD? ASD is diagnosed based purely on behavioral changes. It's important to understand that ASD is not a disease and also not contagious. Important signs to look out for are when a child doesn't respond to his/her surroundings as expected for that age or when they have trouble expressing their needs, such as hunger, or needing to use the restroom, etc. All of these behaviors may seem fairly innocuous but if such patterns continue, it is advisable to meet a clinician to have your child diagnosed at the earliest.
Finally, do take cognizance of the fact that an early diagnosis will lead to early intervention. And an early intervention is crucial in building a better future for your child. If you are interested in speaking to a professional regarding evidence-based treatments that we offer at Stepping Stones, please do contact us.