As a prevalent developmental disability, there are countless questions about autism spectrum disorder, mainly including what it is, why someone has it, and how we can learn from it.
In this blog, we discuss the following:
- Is there a cure coming soon for autism?
- Why is autism increasing?
- What causes autism?
- What are the 3 main symptoms of autism?
- Is autism considered a disability?
- What is the best treatment for autism?
- What happens if autism is not treated?
- How can we test for autism?
Is There a Cure Coming Soon for Autism?
The short answer is no; there’s no current cure nor one on the horizon for autism. ASD directly affects development and brain function, so it cannot be cured. Even though the severity of autism can range from complete adult independence to needing life-long care, no variation can be reversed.
But, there has been an experimental drug applied to autism research. Davunetide (or NAP) has been recognized by the FDA (food and drug administration) for its ability to alter behavior and development in ADNP, which presents similar symptoms and developmental delays to autism. While no cure has been named, and research has yet to be solidified, NAP is still working through an experimental stage for its connection to autism improvement.
Nonetheless, there are a variety of treatment options that can help ease the effects of autism. Continue reading for treatments for autism spectrum disorder.
Why is Autism Increasing?
The prevalence of autism isn’t necessarily increasing–just the diagnosis of it. As more research develops on the signs and symptoms of autism, more caregivers are aware of how their child may fit this description. As more people are attempting testing than ever before, the rate that autism is diagnosed has risen.
This has allowed the disability to be diagnosed at a younger age.
Take note if your young child has shown any of these symptoms:
- Can’t speak or can only speak irregularly.
- Doesn’t have an interest in ”pretend” play.
- Doesn’t take an interest in interacting with other children.
- Doesn’t understand the emotions of others.
- Misses verbal and nonverbal cues (such as pointing).
What Causes Autism?
While autism diagnosis and discovery can be random and due to seemingly unknown causes, research suggests that autism can be caused by environmental factors: such as low birth weight, certain medications during pregnancy, older parents, or maternal obesity.
Genetics are also suspected to play a role, as having a parent or sibling with autism increases the likelihood of having it by 2 to 18 percent. Both of these factors are continually being researched and solidified in accuracy.
Additionally, it’s essential to note that vaccinations cannot cause autism. Extensive research has been conducted over the past two decades, and no correlations between the two were found.
What Are the 3 Main Symptoms of Autism?
People with autism showcase various symptoms. The three most common symptoms include:
- Poor communication skills – both verbal and nonverbal skills.
- Social skills – restrictive or repeated behaviors and interests, avoidance of eye contact, and emotional disconnect.
- Delayed milestones – facial expressions, speaking, and gestures.
Other common symptoms include regressed milestones, stimming, avoidance of touch, resistance to change, and sensitivity to sound. Typically, difficulty with social interactions and communication are the most significant indicators of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These symptoms usually present themselves from one to two, but they are not limited to this age range. Symptoms of autism can be discovered much later in life, and symptoms are experienced lifelong.
Is Autism Considered a Disability?
Yes, autism is recognized as a neurological developmental disability under the ADA (American Disability Association). It affects all neurological components of development, such as necessary communication and behavior skills, and it’s a lifelong disability. Due to how diverse autism is, how it’s presented differs from person to person.
What is the Best Treatment for Autism?
While there’s no official medical intervention for autism treatments, a wide range of behavioral interventions exist, including behavior therapy and educational therapy.
Behavior therapy helps autistic people regulate their emotions and change unhealthy behaviors. Educational therapy helps autistic people understand their learning differences and work through academic challenges.
ABA therapy focuses on teaching positive behavior management and reactions and can significantly reduce harmful behaviors.
Independent living skills training equips people with ASD with essential life skills to lead a more independent life, including reading, communication skills, health and nutrition, job assistance, organization, problem-solving, and more.
What Happens if Autism is Not Treated?
The effects of autism are subjective from one person to the next. While someone may be able to lead a life hardly affected by autism, others may require full-time care. If autism is left untreated, it can lead to a less independent life in adulthood.
Without behavior and communication therapies, a person with autism may be unable to control impulses or gain necessary social skills and see their symptoms worsen with time.
Regression of skills can cause the inability to live alone or know how to function independently. But it’s important to note that it’s never too late to begin treatment! Providing an ASD person with the necessary skills and coping strategies can help them take control of their disability.
How Can We Test For Autism?
- Developmental monitoring is an open conversation between caretakers and medical professionals- where a child’s milestones are carefully noted. This includes speaking, learning, playing, and behaving by a certain age.
- Developmental screening. During a child’s 9-month, 18-month, and 30-month check-up, caregivers answer questionnaires to compare their child’s growth to typical development at that age.
- Developmental diagnosis is conducted by an SLP, pediatrician, occupational therapist, or child psychologist. It’s a structured test to determine the child’s strengths and challenges. This is also when genetic testing comes into play.
As an adult, testing looks different. A professional meets with a potential ASD adult to observe their interactions and then tests them using the “Social Communication Questionnaire,” “Autism Spectrum Quotient,” “Adaptive Behavior Questionnaire,” “Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised” (ADI-R), and “Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2” (ADOS).