Autism is not a disease but a neurological condition that affects brain development where this health condition impacts communication skills, perception of social situations and other developmental skills while becoming evident as the child develops. Some children may show many early signs of Autism, whereas others might show only one or two.
The signs, symptoms and the effect that Autism has on a child’s life varies according to age therefore, early identification and intervention are vital to help children with Autism access the right resources and support to improve their growth and quality of life. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Jesal Sheth, Senior Consultant-Paediatrician at Fortis Hospital in Mulund, shared, “In most cases, Autism is considered a developmental disorder inhibiting socialisation. Some common signs and symptoms include difficulty in eye contact, difficulty in communication and social interaction, sensory difficulties and repetitive movements.”
She revealed, “Children with Autism frequently experience stress for various reasons like daily chores or activities, struggle to express their distress and provoking Anxiety, which can lead to disruptive behaviour. To help them grow and develop to their full potential, building a supportive and suitable environment so that the autistic child feels safe and secure.”
Dr Jesal Sheth highlighted, “Till today, the exact cause of Autism is still not known; however, it is linked to several factors. One of the factors is genetics, as was the case with most autistic children. It has been proven that children who have a sibling with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are at a higher risk of developing the same. We still have to learn and diagnose many factors that can cause ASD and how they impact people with the condition.”
5 things to understand:
According to Dr Jesal Sheth, following are a few facts that every individual dealing with ADS needs to understand:
- An ASD diagnosis can be challenging to obtain as there are no medical or blood tests to detect it. It can be done by analysing the child’s behaviour and development changes between 18 -24 months of age.
- Early identification of ASD in children can help their parents and caregivers seek the support and service required for their growth and better outcome.
- Studies have proven no link between childhood vaccinations and ASD
- The environmental condition, that is the behaviours of the parents before, during, and after pregnancy, is not related or known to cause ASD.
- Proper guidance and support from family, doctors, and teachers can help children with ASD learn and succeed in the classroom and beyond in their life.
Dr Jesal Sheth concluded, “Although there is no cure for Autism, early intervention can help improve outcomes and enable autistic children to live a normal life. Several interventions and intensive therapies have been created by various professionals and specialists that can help children learn a wide range of skills. It is vital to remember that every autistic child has different abilities and behaviours; therefore, the most effective approach is to identify the unique challenges in the child and encourage healthy development through play and therapy instead of just trying to cure the specific symptoms.”