Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.
Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2-3 years of age.
Not long ago, the answer to this question would have been “we have no idea“. Research is now delivering the answers.
- Most cases of autism appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain developments.
- The clearest evidence of these risk factors involves events before and during birth.
- These include advanced parental age at time of conception (both mom and dad), maternal illness during pregnancy and certain periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain.
Detecting ASD can be difficult, since there is no medical test (like a blood test) to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.
There are no medications than cure ASD or treat the core symptoms. However, there are medications that can help some people with ASD function better. For example, medication might help manage high energy levels, inability to focus, depression or seizures.
Medications might not affect all children in the same way. It is important to work with a health care professional who has experience in treating children with ASD.
If you think your child might have ASD or you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts, contact your child’s doctor, and share your concerns.