A report by ETHealthWorld says that about 18 million people are diagnosed with autism in India.
Autism is a complex neurological condition. It is quite prevalent in India, but most of the population lacks an adequate understanding of it. The people diagnosed with this condition are not the only ones affected. It also affects their friends, families, and communities. Living with autism is overwhelming for individuals and their loved ones due to its unique challenges. It involves the individual's emotional well-being, social interactions, and communication abilities. On the other hand, it leaves their friends and families feeling misunderstood, isolated, and searching for answers.
The numerous challenges presented by autism can make it challenging to manage. Yet, with thorough understanding and knowledge, we can create a supportive environment for the patient.
With this blog, we will delve into autism meaning, its causes, symptoms, and treatment. Knowing all this will help to impact the lives of autism-affected individuals positively. So, start reading below.
What is Autism?
Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental condition resulting in behavioral and communication issues. It is a broad range of issues with speech, social skills, repetitive behaviors, and nonverbal communication. The effect of autism can range from minor to a disability when an individual has to get full-time care.
Autistic individuals face trouble with communication and understanding others' feelings and thoughts. As a result, it becomes hard for them to interact with others and express themselves. They also face problems with learning and might develop skills unevenly.
Reading the above section must have introduced you to what autism is. So, now, move on to the next section of this guide, which discusses autism causes.
What are the causes of autism?
Several genetic and environmental factors can cause autism. Researchers have not been able to name one cause behind the condition.
Some common reasons behind the development of autism are listed below-
Advanced age (35 years or more) of birthing parents
Disruptions in brain growth during early development
Having an older autistic sibling or twin
Research in autism genetics has been thriving for the last few decades. We have found that genetics play a crucial role in its development. As a result, it is highly heritable. They have also found that autism risk increases due to specific gene variants. The variants might come from an individual's parent, or they might develop it during their lifetime.
Genetics is not the only cause of autism. Several environmental factors may also contribute to the development of autism. Some of these factors are-
Medication used while pregnancy, like valproic acid and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
Viral and bacterial infections while pregnancy
Maternal diabetes or obesity
Heavy metals, pesticides, air pollution, and other environmental toxicants
Low birth weight
Several types of research support the above factors to be causes of autism. However, there is still a lack of appropriate research.
What are some signs and symptoms?
Several signs and symptoms indicate the development of autism, some of which are listed below. However, it is essential to note that some of these symptoms might also be seen in people who do not have autism.
Repetitive behavior- doing something back and forth, like repeating phrases or words
Highly sensitive to smells, touches, sounds, and sights that might seem normal to other people
Lacking eye contact
Unable to look or listen to other people
Facing issues with using or understanding gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, or speech
Speaking in a robotic, flat, or sing-song voice
Lack of interest or getting intensely interested in specific topics
Feeling uncomfortable when held or cuddled
Facing difficulty in adapting to changes in routine
Unable to focus or look when other people point at something
Some individuals also have seizures
The final section of this all-in-one guide on autism will provide insight into autism treatment.
Is autism curable?
Unfortunately, autism is not curable and has no treatment. However, there are several ways in which its symptoms can be managed. Such treatment options aim to maximize the affected individual's functioning ability and reduce the symptoms' effect. These ways also support their development and learning. But, it is crucial to understand that no management method can be used as a one-size-fits-all. Methods are chosen for an individual based on their specific condition.
Early attention to the condition and using the appropriate methods can help an autistic individual learn communication, social skills, behavioral and functional skills. Some of the ways to manage autism are listed below-
Communication and behavior therapies
Medications to reduce the effect of symptoms. Antipsychotic drugs are used to treat hyperactivity, and antidepressants for stress and anxiety.
In addition to the above-listed management methods, the caregivers, teachers, and parents must also follow the below-given tips to manage autistic children-
Reward them for their positive behavior.
Repeating their learnings from school at home
Observe their body language.
Engaging them in recreational activities
Over the last few decades, the number of autism cases is continuously increasing in India. With this advancing number, it is important to understand the neurological condition. Only then will we be able to manage and navigate its complexities. Compassion and awareness are important to create a supportive environment for patients and their families. Hence, it is crucial to understand autism to recognize the unique challenges the affected individuals face and how one can help them.
If there has to be one single takeaway that I want you to remember as a loyal reader of my blog, it would be to normalize autism. If you have a child who might show these symptoms or is beginning to develop some, I will suggest taking it easy. Get connected with other parents raising an autistic child. Get them connected to fellow autistic kids or adults. Find Your tribe and motivation among real life experiences. Never base it on the judgements of the people who don't know anything about the condition. Raise them in an environment that makes them feel equally normal, loved, and accepted.
Until next time!