Autism is an invisible disability which affects many children every year. Unfortunately, despite constant advances in research in this area, at the present time it is not possible to strictly determine the causes of autism and autism spectrum disorders.
Girls Are Less Diagnosed
Listening to testimonies of parents (with autistic children diagnosed quite late) we understand some childhood specialists may have, at one point, allowed themselves to remain overcome by behaviors which are difficult to define. Indeed there is not a single autism but many autisms, from the lightest to the most invasive and disabling. The diagnosis may take time to be clear, especially for little girls whose calm behavior may correspond to a quality found in many of them… You may hear:”Don’t worry, girls are quiter than boys!” Today, if there are fewer autistic girls than autistic boys, it may simply be that they are not as much diagnosed…
There Is A Middle Between Denial And Fear-Mongering
Some parents worry a lot about the abnormal development of their child at the slightest warning sign, but others let some signals pass while they should not be overlooked… Some parents prefer telling to themselves – regarding their child’s slow development (and they can be right sometimes) – that “everything will eventually return to order naturally”… but in reality many parents oscillate between alarmism and normalization when the signals concern behavior that could be relevant as a developmental delay or a lack of interest for games, toys…
A Thin Line…
So, why is it so difficult to diagnose autism in children? Probably because even if the child development responds to major stages (have a look at my article about Piaget), different children may not respond to this model. How, then, to judge a slight delay in development, a delay in language or an apparent isolation (is the child locked in his own world or is he simply calm and not very interested in the things around him? Sometimes the line between the two seems really thin).
A Spectrum For Autism
Even if some behaviors seem suspicious and accumulate, this does not necessarily mean that there is an autism… This is why nowadays specialists define a group of suspicious behaviors as autism spectrum disorders. The use of the word “spectrum” means that there are many levels and sensitivities for autism. The spectrum also encompasses syndromes as Asperger’s one (difficulties in communicating with others, establishing social bonds, in empathy etc.) We also find pervasive developmental disorder into the autism spectrum. The causes of autism remain multifactorial and hence the difficulty of diagnosis… Parents and researchers have to admit that they are experiencing a mysterious disability.
Parents In The Front Of The Search
Parents of autistic children who fight on a daily basis to stimulate the development and socialization of their child alongside specialists in this handicap and researchers should all benefit from a medal. They are and define on a daily basis the living research on this misunderstood evil. In the multitude of solutions that exist to stimulate the autistic child, it is them who are really able to judge what works and what does not… Although of course each child with autism is different from the next, these children’s need for steadfastness is the basis of many protocols.
A Genetic Component
Researchers agree about one point: there is a genetic component to autism. The causes of autism are therefore already present in the prenatal period. However, it is extremely difficult to diagnose a child with autism before 2 or 3 years old. You will easily understand that when a baby is born, we do not yet know its future capacities, aptitudes and stages of development … And yet it is always by diagnosing early that it is easier to act on autism and to provide the child with adequate daily stimulation…
An Unexplained Regression…
A child may develop completely normally for up to one year or two years and then begin to regress in an unexplained way. We can then attend worrying signals such as the loss of speech or the first words spoken, notice a mimicry without real implication, the fact that the child starts to save his gestures, his interactions or even an interest for the world around him seeming to decrease.
What Is The Autistic Triad?
The researchers found that the signals of autism mostly concerned 3 areas: social interactions, communication and language, restriction of behavior and repetitiveness of actions.
What Still Characterizes Autism?
Léo Kanner described autism in 1943 around two main symptoms relating to the child’s apparent needs: the need for isolation and the need for steadfastness.
Even though the DSM 5 has changed some references we had about autism, we can say that the autistic child needs to be isolated, does not tolerate noise quite well and feels distressed as soon as things change around him. In children with autism, there is not really articulate language, although children who have been followed and stimulated can then express themselves almost normally. We almost always perceive in autistic children socialization disorders and the absence of symbolic games (playing mother, merchant etc.). Apart some stereotypical movements, the gestures are restricted and the child may seem to fix all his interest on shapes (looking at the same object for a very long time without wanting to move on to something else, for example).
What About Emotions ?
When we see an autistic adult laughing or expressing an emotion following a joke or a fact that can lead to a smile, let us remember that he fought a hard battle to get there. Because even if the autistic child is most of the time overwhelmed by his emotions, it is almost impossible for him to express them and let them be exposed. Most adults with autism who appear to be well integrated into society have learned to imitate the emotions of others to develop a semblance of natural emotion.
Moms Do Feel When Something Goes Wrong
Parents who are anxious about their child can already learn about the major classic and normal phases of child development. They should see a specialist as long as their doubts about their child’s development persist because parents feel such things extremely well. Many mothers of children diagnosed with autism later admit to having felt the signals very early on. Let’s remember that autism manifests itself very often before the third year of the child with different severities and different shades. The origin of autism is both neurobiological and environmental. It is important if you are in doubt to consult several specialists including a pediatrician, a psychologist and a neuro-psychiatrist, all pros of autism awareness. The earlier and regularly the support needed by autism is provided (in Europe, autistic children, in some countries, have a school assistant who is 100% dedicated to them during the class and the breaks) the better the autistic child will be able to integrate into the society and in the education system that best suit them.