Monday, September 10, 2012

Autism In The Newborn Child

When having children, new parents should be aware of common disorders that may affect their child's development, and to know how to recognize certain symptoms. Autism is a common disorder, being the most common amongst the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, or a category of disorders that are recognized by delays in the development of such functions as socialization and communication. In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 1 in 250 births were affected, meaning that about 1.5 Americans today may have some form of autism.

Since autism is generally diagnosed within the first three years of life, parents can learn quickly whether their child is affected. As characterized by the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, autism is a neurological disorder which affects the social interaction and communication areas during brain development. Common symptoms involve the child's lack of ability to interact or communicate with others, as well as the child's ability to reason. For example, some autistic people, in having different world views from others, are able to solve certain kinds of puzzles more quickly, since they are able to view problems in different ways.
However, parents should be aware that autism may be difficult to detect in certain individuals, since it is a spectral disorder, meaning that there is no single way in which a person is affected. Some experience symptoms more strongly than others, and there are a range of other disabilities that are often found in conjunction with autism.

Additionally, researchers have not pinpointed a single cause for autism, but have instead generally accepted that abnormalities in brain structure of function are at fault, especially since brain scans show physical differences between autistic and non-autistic brains. Researchers are currently investigating possible causes, though, such as heredity, genetics, and medical problems. They are also looking into pregnancy or delivery defects, as well as environmental factors, including viral infections, exposure to environmental chemicals, and metabolic imbalances.

Researchers have also determined that individuals who have medical conditions such as tuberous sclerosis, Fragile X syndrome, congenital rubella syndrome, or untreated phenylketonuria (PKU) are at higher risk for autism. Additionally, while autism is found equally in all populations, boys are affected four times more than girls.

Since autism occurs alongside abnormal brain development, there is no cure for it. But parents may employ educational approaches and treatment that could help to reduce some of the symptoms. Education to teach self-help skills can train autistic individuals to become more independent, and intervention can help to reduce disruptive behaviors. But just as there is no single cause for autism, and since autism comes with varying degrees of symptoms and severity, no single method of treatment is suitable for all affected individuals. Once parents determine the severity of their child's symptoms, they can then learn about their treatment options, and can determine proper training and educational methods that will best benefit their child.
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