What is Autism?

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurological disorder that impairs the development of communication and social relations of its bearer.

Also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), autism has no cure, but with the correct treatment the person can have a normal life, depending on the severity level of the disorder.

As a rule, autism can be identified in the first months or years of the individual’s life. During childhood, this disorder is often called childhood autism.

The causes of autism are still unknown, but several studies suggest that it may be triggered by genetic or external factors, such as complications during pregnancy or the sequel of a virus infection, for example.

Meaning of Autism

Light Autism

It is considered a subtle type of autism, diagnosed from the observation of some details about the behavior of the individual, such as: it establishes little visual contact with other people, does not continue the dialogues, does not know to communicate by gestures, difficult to accept rules of immediate, antisocial, does not usually respond when called by name, among other characteristics.

In mild autism the person has no motor or language difficulties, as in some more severe degrees of this disorder.

If the child is suspected of having mild autism, parents or guardians should seek a psychologist or pediatrician for tests. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the better the patient’s response to treatment and the greater the chances of helping him lead a normal life.

Many people associate mild autism with Asperger’s Syndrome, mainly due to the great similarity between the symptoms found in both. The difference is in the fact that Asperger’s Syndrome does not affect the language and the cognitive aspects of the person, besides this one has a well-developed memorization ability.

Characteristics of Autism

There are several degrees of autism, with different levels of severity, with the most striking characteristics among all the participants, being the difficulty in establishing social interactions, the compulsive interest in something and the presence of repetitive behaviors.

In reality, the difficulty in establishing social interactions is also due to the fact that the autism sufferer has difficulties in understanding and applying social norms, which are usually learned by observation and intuition.

People with autism may still have sensory disturbances, which make them have a differentiated perception of the world around them. For example, it is common for autistics to have high auditory sensitivity, making them uncomfortable with noises that would not disturb a person without autism.

It is emphasized that autism does not mean lack of intelligence, since there are autistic at all levels of IQ (high, medium and low). The main barrier faced by the autistic is the difficulty in communicating and expressing their distinct way of interpreting the world around them, and are often labeled unfairly as “retarded”.

Symptoms of Autism

The symptoms of autism often vary according to the severity of the disorder. However, the difficulty in establishing social contacts and repetitive behaviors are some of the most common symptoms in all grades of the disease.

In general, the person with autism may have:

  • Aggressive behavior;
  • Lack of eye contact with other people;
  • Irritability;
  • Repetition of words (without meaning);
  • Involuntary imitation of movements;
  • Hyperactivity;
  • Difficulty of learning;
  • Difficulty in dealing with change (plans, home, schedules, school, etc);
  • Delay in speech ability;
  • Manifestation of extreme emotions (on occasions where they should not happen);
  • Loss of speech;
  • Lack of attention;
  • Intense interest in specific things;
  • Depression;
  • Lack of empathy;
  • Anxiety;
  • Tiptoe walking;
  • Nerve tics and manias.

Remembering that the symptoms may vary according to the level of autism, ie it is not necessary for the person to present all the above symptoms to be considered autistic.

Treatments for Autism

As stated earlier, autism has no cure. The child with autism will become an adult with autism. However, there are several treatments that help to minimize the symptoms of people with this disorder.

The child with autism should be accompanied by a speech therapist who will help develop their verbal and non-verbal language.

Occupational or behavioral therapy is also important in helping the autistic to develop a better response to sensory stimuli.

There is no medicine for autism and no general treatment since different techniques are applied according to the severity of the disease.

The constant psychological monitoring done by qualified professionals is essential for the application of any type of therapy.

Autism and Education

Due to autistic difficulties in terms of cognition and socialization, the role of educators becomes essential to help treat children with autism.

Psychologists advise some activities aimed at teaching the autistic, especially those involving the visual stimulus and the reproduction of certain situations to exemplify concepts, for example.