Autism encompasses a broad group of developmental disabilities that can cause social, communication and behavioral challenges. Due to the wide range of ways that autism can present itself, it is also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Those affected by the disorder have different ways in which they learn, interact and carry out their daily activities. Some can live a normal independent life while others may require assistance and may be severely challenged.
Children with autism are usually diagnosed in the first few years of life. Early diagnosis is usually associated with better outcomes in the future. Some of the characteristics of autism include atypical tone of voice and speech patterns, late development of speech skills, decreased responsiveness to social interactions, difficulty in communication, repetitive speech or repetitive behaviors, avoidance of eye contact.
Pediatricians are usually the first to pick up on the signs of this disorder. Delays in developmental milestones is usually the first indication, along with concerns of the parents regarding any other behavioral observations. The pediatrician would then refer to a child psychologist, pathologist, neurologist and other specialties as well to determine the severity of the challenges that the child may develop.
Treatments include behavioral and communication therapies. There are no medications to treat autism however symptomatic treatment with medications may be prescribed for associated depression, anxiety, insomnia etc.