Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. These signs often develop gradually, though some children with autism reach their developmental milestones at a normal pace and then regress. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent in early childhood, typically before age three.
The main goals when treating children with autism are to lessen associated deficits and family distress, and to increase quality of life and functional independence. Families and the educational system are the main resources for treatment.
The human brain and its astonishing cerebral cortex, using all of the conscious and unconscious signals reaching it from the senses and internal circuits, creates patterns of association, memory and action that express the unique personalities of all human beings. Individuals from autism are creating their lives as are the rest of us. A few have broken through to express themselves and have revealed that despite appearances their dreams and hopes are those we all share.
Early signs to look for in your child:
- Lack of or delay in spoken language
- Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
- Little or no eye contact
- Lack of interest in peer relationships
- Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
- Persistent fixation on parts of objects