American Asperger's Association Support Group

Latest topics
» Chambers of Hope (COH) and American Aspergers Association (AAA)
Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:29 pm by csweepigirl

» Introductions
Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:39 am by earthenvessel

» June 4th 2011
Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:22 am by csweepigirl

» Free Home Speech Practice Home offer
Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:21 pm by csweepigirl

» Support group meeting and hbot volunteers
Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:35 am by Dr. Ron

Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:46 am by bondgary009

» Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) is hosting the first of its best practices webinars
Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:51 am by csweepigirl

» We need to start this website back up again!
Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:33 am by man of a million names

» Group Home Manager is Yelling I Need Help
Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:10 am by csweepigirl

» Facebook
Mon Jul 05, 2010 2:27 am by KelleyNNelson

» Support Group Meetings 2011 *EDITED*
Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:57 am by KelleyNNelson

» community happenings!
Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:01 am by

» Asperger's (how it is diagnosed and treated)
Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:27 pm by csweepigirl

» What do you do when people look at you by the pills you take vs. the person you are?
Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:01 pm by csweepigirl

» Items under your nose that are gluten free, and cheap too!
Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:59 am by KelleyNNelson

» Adam
Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:19 am by man of a million names

» Looking for friends
Sat Jun 05, 2010 8:51 pm by channing28105

» Maas-Rowe Carillon Questions
Sat Jun 05, 2010 8:51 pm by channing28105

» Video Emails from Dr. Ron
Tue May 11, 2010 1:40 am by Dr. Ron

» Ah, it's good to be back.
Sat May 01, 2010 5:03 am by man of a million names

» 1st Annual Aspergers Volleyball Tournament
Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:03 am by Dr. Ron

» free event: Therapeutic Recreation Adapted Sailing and Kayak Clinic
Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:20 am by csweepigirl

» Help! I Seem to be Getting More Autistic!" ARTICLE
Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:22 am by csweepigirl

» Was this teacher out of line?
Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:31 pm by lovethefish

Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:38 am by KelleyNNelson

» Got Plates?
Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:19 am by KelleyNNelson

» Local IEP Advocate!! THANKS VAL!!!
Sun Feb 28, 2010 1:16 pm by csweepigirl

» Pinellas ESE advisory board meetings
Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:31 am by lovethefish

» Dentists who use sedation.. thanks Dr. Ron
Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:28 am by lovethefish

» Hey GAB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:25 am by csweepigirl

» Autism in the news: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A hormone thought to encourage bonding between mothers and their babies may foster social behavior in some adults with autism, French researchers said on Monday.
Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:01 am by csweepigirl

» **********echo*******************
Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:16 pm by KelleyNNelson

» Any ideas on how to make a gluten regression easier for both child and family?
Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:47 am by csweepigirl

» Hi! Long time no see.
Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:04 am by KelleyNNelson

» Hellooooo? Need some freakin' help here.
Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:50 am by man of a million names

» Cats or dogs? Summer or winter?
Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:47 am by man of a million names

» Mozark and the whale *aspergers movie* on showtime on demand.. SUCKED by the way
Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:42 am by man of a million names

» Adult Aspergers Syndrome
Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:07 pm by KelleyNNelson

» Asperger’s Syndrome: A Developmental Puzzle by Michael McCroskery
Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:22 pm by csweepigirl

» Really Cool Super Awesome Thing! Kim And Kelly You Have To Read This!
Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:24 am by man of a million names

» 2 Articles of Interest Re: Aspergers
Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:15 am by csweepigirl

» Accidently stubled across some info about meletonin oops!
Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:41 pm by csweepigirl

» Lack of Services for ASD
Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:04 pm by Dr. Ron

» New and having a hard time
Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:40 am by lovethefish

» Sorry I haven't been around as much (update)
Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:53 pm by KelleyNNelson

» Having a hard time again
Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:35 am by man of a million names

» Important paradox/riddle! Anyone care to help with it?
Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:46 pm by KelleyNNelson

» Follow through or not.
Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:01 am by csweepigirl

» New Pediatrics Autism Study Putting Prevalence at 1 in 91
Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:45 am by csweepigirl

» Different Directions
Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:41 am by csweepigirl

» AS is a very difficult diagnosis to make.
Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:47 pm by csweepigirl

» How is everyone?
Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:48 pm by Jerry Graham

» CD to benefit the AAA ~!!!!! Check this out!!
Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:14 am by bassfiddlesteve

» I met Joe Diffie's son!
Sun Sep 20, 2009 8:01 am by csweepigirl

» Anyone feel like helping me smack the crap out of my former boss?
Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:56 am by csweepigirl

» Lazy or Aspergers?? or both?
Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:20 am by man of a million names

» The right thing?
Tue Sep 15, 2009 7:27 am by man of a million names

» Mark Fowler and his wonderful work.
Sun Sep 13, 2009 5:51 am by man of a million names

» A.A.A. RESEARCH STUDY. Do you see any differences between females with Aspergers vs. males with Aspergers
Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:49 pm by csweepigirl

» What happened?? because I don't know, do you?
Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:24 am by man of a million names

» Haha, Funny URL.
Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:15 am by man of a million names

» Dude! Kim, I forgot to tell you... and maybe anyone else at the last meeting...
Sat Sep 05, 2009 4:59 am by man of a million names

» My son is making strange noises!
Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:41 pm by KelleyNNelson

» Terrible sound on video
Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:30 am by man of a million names

» Aspian or Aspergian?
Fri Sep 04, 2009 7:22 am by man of a million names

» If you, or you know someone who needs a BIG/HUGE carseat..
Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:33 am by csweepigirl

» Just a quick hello
Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:37 am by man of a million names

» We started the FLDRS process...and here's what we found out so far
Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:19 am by man of a million names

» Support Groups
Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:31 pm by KelleyNNelson

» (Aspergers) Boy Meets Girl Movie
Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:13 am by man of a million names

» I give up, with trying to ever just relax, really.. I'm so flustrated!
Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:15 am by man of a million names

» Basic White or Yellow Cake
Sat Aug 22, 2009 6:33 am by man of a million names

» When did this category get here?
Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:55 am by man of a million names

» Pork Fried Rice
Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:17 pm by man of a million names

» Why Are The Private Messages Still Disabled????
Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:48 pm by man of a million names

» Sorry I've been M.I.A.
Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:04 am by man of a million names

» 5Km Run For AS!
Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:30 pm by man of a million names

» Help for a mother.
Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:01 pm by Dr. Ron

» Aspergers and empathy
Sat Aug 08, 2009 11:41 am by csweepigirl

» We are the three amigo(a)s!Aanyone care to join?
Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:42 am by man of a million names

» Vaccinations, Red Book, What?
Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:21 am by Dr. Ron

» What is the first step?
Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:14 am by Dr. Ron

» Children who can’t cuddle
Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:27 pm by csweepigirl

» Challenging popular myths about autism
Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:59 pm by Dr. Ron

» I NEED your HELP!!
Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:41 am by melissa

» Ok..what do I do? any suggestions..
Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:53 am by melissa

» Back home!
Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:10 pm by KelleyNNelson

» Any spanish speakers willing to help an aspie in spain?
Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:34 pm by csweepigirl

» Gluten Free Simple Bread
Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:49 am by csweepigirl

» More research (genetics)
Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:43 am by csweepigirl

You are not connected. Please login or register

Understanding Autism

Go down  Message [Page 1 of 1]

1 Understanding Autism on Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:46 pm


Understanding Autism
A Guide to the Symptoms, Causes, and Early Warning Signs

Autism is a complex brain disorder that affects many aspects of child development, including how a kid talks, plays, and interacts. Although the causes of autism are not yet fully understood, experts agree that the earlier autistic children receive treatment for their symptoms, the better. Early intervention makes a huge difference in the outcome of the disorder, so as a parent, it's important to know autism’s warning signs and seek immediate help if you spot them in your child.

Understanding autism
Autism is a disorder that appears in early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development such as learning to talk and interact with others. The symptoms of autism vary widely, as does the impact of the disorder: some autistic children have only mild impairments, while others have more obstacles to overcome.
But although the specific combination of symptoms and the severity of the disorder differ from person to person, kids with autism typically have problems in the following three areas:

Social Skills — Impaired social interaction is the hallmark sign of autism. This may appear as an apparent lack of interest in other people and the surrounding environment. Children with autism often appear to be in their own little world. They have trouble engaging in back-and-forth play, sharing emotions, making friends, and understanding what others are thinking and feeling.

Communication — Autism also involves problems with verbal and nonverbal communication. Spoken language is usually delayed in autistic children and may even be completely absent. Even when able to speak, children with autism usually have trouble conversing freely and easily. Other common symptoms involve odd or repetitive speech patterns, inappropriate facial expressions and gestures, and language comprehension difficulties.

Repetitive behavior — Autistic children often exhibit repetitive or "stereotyped" behaviors and narrow, restricted interests. This may show up as an extreme resistance to change, obsessive attachments to unusual objects, or inflexible routines and schedules. Repetitive body movements, or self-stimulatory behaviors, such as hand flapping and rocking are also common.

There is some debate over how many people have autism and whether or not the disorder is becoming more prevalent. While more children are being diagnosed with autism than in the past, many experts believe that at least some of the increase can be explained by heightened public awareness of the disorder, as well as broader and more accurate diagnostic criteria that is catching milder cases.

On the other hand, the latest research indicates that—at the very least—autism is more common in the U.S. than previously thought. According to a February 2007 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 150 children has autism.

While autism occurs with equal frequency across all races, ethnicities, and social classes, boys are three to four times more likely to have autism than girls. The siblings of those with the disorder are also at a higher risk.

The Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism is one of a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). All of the ASDs begin in childhood and involve delays in communication and social skills. They are known as spectrum disorders because every child on the autism spectrum is affected differently, with unique challenges, symptoms, and abilities.

Learn More

Causes of autism
The causes of autism are unknown, but most experts agree that both genetic and environmental factors are involved. One popular theory is that certain individuals are born with a genetic predisposition for autism that is then triggered by something in the environment, either while the baby is still in the womb or shortly after birth.

Genetic causes of autism
Research indicates that genes—particularly inherited genetic glitches and spontaneous DNA mutations—play a primary role in the development of autism. But no single gene is to blame. Scientists believe that at least 5 to 20 major genes are involved in autism, with many others also contributing to the risk.

The bulk of the evidence for autism’s hereditary component comes from twin studies. Multiple twin studies show that when one identical twin develops autism, the other twin will also develop the disorder approximately 9 times out of 10. In fraternal twins—who are no more genetically similar than normal siblings—the concordance rate is just 1 in 10.

Large epidemiologic studies also show that older parents are at a significantly higher risk of having autistic children. The age of the father appears to be particularly important. A recent Israeli study found that children born to fathers who were 40 or older were almost six times more likely to develop autism than the children of men younger than 30. This heightened risk is likely due to genetic mutations in sperm, which are more and more common as men age.

But while some specific chromosomal abnormalities and mutations appear to cause autism themselves, in the majority of cases, the interaction of multiple genes leads to a susceptibility to autism without directly causing it.

Environmental causes of autism
Since genes don’t completely explain autism risk or the rising number of new cases, scientists are searching for environmental explanations to fill in the blanks. The idea is that toxins, chemicals, or other harmful external elements may trigger autism, either by “turning on” or exacerbating a genetic vulnerability or independently disturbing brain development.

While considerable attention has been focused on vaccines as a possible cause of autism, a growing body of research suggests that the disorder is caused by environmental factors that occur before vaccination, and sometimes even before birth.

Evidence suggests that autism can be triggered by exposure—either during pregnancy or the early months of life­—to viral infections, pesticides, insecticides, and the prescription drugs thalidomide and valproic acid. Recent studies have also found that oxygen deprivation during delivery or fetal development can up the risk of autism.

Other environmental factors being studied include air pollution, food additives, mercury in fish, flame retardants, and certain chemicals used to make plastics and other synthetic materials. These substances are particularly dangerous to young babies, whose brains are more likely to absorb toxins and less effective at clearing them out.

Autism and vaccines
When it comes to autism, no topic is more controversial than childhood vaccinations. At the center of this controversy is thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative once commonly used in vaccines to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination. The concern is that exposure to thimerosal may lead to mercury poisoning and autism. Scientific research, however, does not support the theory that childhood vaccinations cause autism.

Five major epidemiologic studies conducted in the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, and Denmark found that children who received vaccines containing thimerosal did not have higher rates of autism. Additionally, a major safety review by the Institute of Medicine failed to find any evidence supporting the connection. Other organizations that have concluded that vaccines are not associated with autism include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization.

With the exception of the flu vaccine, thimerosal is no longer used in any childhood vaccines. If you remain concerned about a possible connection between autism and mercury, you can request a thimerosal-free version of the flu vaccine from your child's pediatrician.

Back to Top
Early signs and symptoms of autism
Autism symptoms are usually apparent by 18 to 36 months of age, and subtle warning signs may be evident much earlier—even as early as infancy. Because early intervention makes a huge difference in minimizing the symptoms and negative impact of autism, the earlier autism is identified the better. As a parent, you’re much more likely to catch the early signs and symptoms of autism if you track your child’s development, watching out for developmental delays and red flags.

Developmental delays as a sign of autism
As children grow, they go through a process where fundamental skills, or developmental milestones, are learned and mastered. These milestones include: physical skills (such as sitting up, crawling, and walking), social skills (such as smiling, playing, and imitating others), and communication skills (such as gesturing and talking). Since the pace of growth varies from child to child, there are flexible windows of time where certain developmental milestones should be reached. However, if your child has not reached milestones at the expected age, this indicates a developmental delay.

Autism involves a multitude of developmental delays, so keeping a close eye on when—or if—your child is hitting all the key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones is an effective way to spot the problem early on. While developmental delays don’t automatically point to autism, they do indicate a heightened risk. Furthermore, whether the delay is caused by autism or some other factor, developmentally delayed kids are unlikely to simply “grow out” of the problem. In order to develop skills in an area of delay, your child needs extra help and targeted treatment.

The following delays warrant an immediate evaluation by your child’s pediatrician:
By 6 months: No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions.

By 9 months: No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions.

By 12 months: No babbling or “baby talk.

By 12 months: No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving.

By 16 months: No spoken words.

By 24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating.

At any age: Any loss of speech, babbling, or social skills.

Source: First Signs

Regression of any kind should be taken seriously. According to Catherine Lord, the director of the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center, about 25% of autistic kids appear normal as babies and then regress at some point between 12 and 24 months. For example, a child who was communicating with words such as “mommy” or “up” may stop using language entirely, or a child may stop playing social games he or she used to enjoy such as peek-a-boo, patty cake, or waving “bye-bye.

Detecting autism in babies
Most children are diagnosed with autism around the age of three. However, when autism is detected even earlier, treatment can take full advantage of the young brain’s remarkable plasticity. If detected by 12 months of age or even earlier, intensive treatment may even be able to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.

However, the earliest signs of autism are easy to miss because they involve the absence of normal behaviors—not the presence of abnormal ones. For example, autistic babies typically don’t follow moving objects with their eyes, reach out to grasp toys, or make gestures to attract attention. In some cases, the earliest symptoms of autism are even misinterpreted as signs of a “good baby,” since the infant is quiet and doesn’t make demands. But while such a baby may be easy to deal with, these are red flags of a very serious problem, not positive qualities.

Babies—like all humans—are social creatures. By the time they are 2 to 3 months old, babies who are developing normally will make sounds to get their parents attention, smile at the sound of a familiar voice, play with other people, and imitate certain movements and facial expressions. If your baby isn’t responding to you, despite your attempts to interact and show affection, it is cause for concern.

Other early signs of autism:
The baby doesn’t make eye contact.

The baby doesn't respond to his or her name.

The baby doesn’t follow objects visually.

The baby doesn't smile when smiled at.

The baby doesn’t imitate other people.

The baby doesn't point or wave goodbye.

The baby doesn’t babble or make noises.

According to Harvard Medical School, babies who are passive and inactive at 6 months, then extremely irritable or joyless at 12 months, are also at a higher risk of developing autism.

The First Sign of Autism
A study published in the April 2007 issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that the failure to turn or look in response to hearing one’s name may be one of the earliest signs of autism.

Autism red flags in children of all ages
As children get older, the red flags for autism increase and become more diverse. There are many warning signs and symptoms, but they typically revolve around verbal and non-verbal communication difficulties, impaired social skills, and repetitive behaviors.

Verbal warning signs and symptoms of autism:
Slow to develop language skills.

Repeats or echoes certain words or phrases.

Has trouble expressing needs.

Used to say a few words or babble, but doesn't anymore.

Non-verbal warning signs and symptoms of autism:
Avoids eye contact.

Doesn’t play "pretend" games.

Reacts unusually to sights, smells, textures, and sounds.

Doesn’t seem to hear when others talk to him or her.

Social warning signs and symptoms of autism:
Appears uninterested in other people.

Has trouble understanding or talking about feelings.

Doesn’t know how to talk to or play with others.

Prefers not to be held or cuddled.

Repetitive behavior warning signs and symptoms of autism:
Has difficulty adapting to changes in routine.

Shows unusual attachments to toys or other objects.

Obsessively lines things up or arranges them in a certain order
Repeats the same actions or movements over and over again.

What to do if you 're worried
If your young child or baby is delayed in any area or if you’ve observed red flags or other warning signs for autism, schedule an immediate appointment with your pediatrician. In fact, it’s a good idea to have your child screened by a doctor even if he or she is hitting the developmental milestones on schedule.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive routine developmental screenings, as well as specific screenings for autism at 9, 18, and 30 months of age

Autism Screening
A number of specialized screening tools have been developed to identify children at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. Most of these screening tools are quick and straightforward, consisting of yes-or-no questions or a checklist of symptoms.

The pediatrician should also get your feedback regarding your child’s behavior. If you aren’t asked about your specific concerns, don’t be afraid to speak up. No one knows your child better than you.

If the pediatrician sees possible signs of autism, your child should be referred to a specialist for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. Screening tools can’t be used to make a diagnosis, which is why further assessment is needed.

Getting Immediate Help for Your Child
The diagnostic process for autism is tricky, and sometimes it can take awhile. But you don’t have to wait for an official diagnosis before you begin to get help for your child. Ask your doctor to refer you to early intervention services. Early intervention is a federally-funded program for infants and toddlers with disabilities.

Back to top  Message [Page 1 of 1]

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum