What are the signs of autism?
Autism symptoms often start showing when a child is around six months old. They become more apparent at the age of 2-3, and continue up to adulthood. Autism has three general symptoms, all of which need to be present for a child to be called autistic.
- Impaired social interaction-Children with autism do not have the basic social instincts many people take for granted. Autistic children do not respond to their own names as often as normal children would, and rarely make eye contact with those speaking to them. They also have difficulty expressing themselves with hand gestures, such as pointing.
- Impaired communication-Most autistic children have difficulty developing enough speaking skills to communicate. Children who babble or speak in patterns completely different from their caregivers are most likely autistic. As they grow older, autistic children usually repeat others' words instead of speaking on their own.
- Repetitive behavior -Autistic children display repetitive or restricted behaviors. These include stereotypy, or repeated movements and gestures; compulsive behavior, such as arranging objects in lines or stacks; and ritualistic behavior, or daily repetition of the exact same activities.
What causes autism?
Autism is a complex disorder, and most studies on it are incomplete. There are several proposed theories regarding autism causes. Genetic factors are the most common, but it remains unclear which genes affect a child's probability of developing autism. A child whose parent had autism will not always develop the disorder, but the chances of it happening are high.
Environmental factors a child is exposed to while in the mother's womb also affect the development of autism. One common cause is the mother's own immune response to viral infections. If triggered during early pregnancy, this immune response has a negative effect on the development of the child's brain and nervous system.
Some studies propose other factors that can cause autism to develop shortly after the child is born. These include mercury poisoning, certain vaccinations, viral infections, and exposure to opiates.
Autism and antidepressants
According to laboratory tests done on animals, the intake of antidepressant substances called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) in high amounts resulted in autism-like behaviors. Further studies show exposure to SSRI increases the probability a child will develop autism up to four times. This means women taking antidepressants containing SSRI during pregnancy risk increasing the chances their child will be born autistic.
Like most of the research done on autism causes, the studies linking autism and antidepressants are still incomplete. Despite this, many doctors advise pregnant mothers to be aware of the potential risks involved when taking SSRI drugs during pregnancy.
If you were taking antidepressants during your pregnancy and your child developed autism, you can look for an autism attorney to help you acquire compensation from the company that produced the drugs.