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Parents who learn that their child has autism perceive this condition as a death sentence. What is this mysterious disease? What are the causes of its development? Is it possible to recognize it at an early stage? Let’s find it out.

What is autism?

Autism is a disorder of mental and psychological development, in which there is a pronounced deficiency of emotional manifestations and the sphere of communication. A person suffering from a disease like this never shows his/her emotions, gestures and speech to others, and his/her actions often lack social meaning.

Many parents are worried about the question of how to understand that a child has autism and at what age is this disease manifested for the first time? Most often, such a diagnosis is made to children aged 3 to 5 years and is called RDA early childhood autism or Kanner’s syndrome. The clinical manifestations of this disease, as well as the principles of treatment, depend on the form of autism and are most often manifested in violation of facial expressions, gestures, loudness and intelligibility of speech.

What are the causes of the disease?

In most cases, autistic children are well developed physically and have a pleasant appearance, that is, it is not obvious that this baby has any disease of the nervous system. The exact causes of autism are unknown to specialists, but there are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of this disease, these include:

How does the autistic child perceive the world around?

A child with autism usually cannot combine the details of any actions in one chain. In almost every case, a child with autism cannot distinguish animate objects from inanimate objects, and he/she sees a person not as a whole, but as a “set” of individual parts of the body. All surrounding external influences (touch, light, sound, close contact) have an irritating effect on the autistic person, therefore, the patient most often closes in on himself/herself and refuses to make contact even with close people.

Symptoms and signs of autism

Autism in children is expressed by certain clinical signs. Early childhood autism can occur for the first time even in a one-year-old baby. Of course, only a specialist can diagnose the disease, but parents can suspect a pathology in their child if he or she often has the following conditions:

Symptoms of autism in children: first signals to parents

There are 4 main clinical signs characteristic for early autism:

Violation of social interaction

As soon as the child reaches the age of one, parents can observe the first manifestations of autism. A mild form of the disease is considered to be a violation of eye-to-eye contact, that is, when the baby does not look at the adult when contacting him/her and does not respond to speech. In addition, such a child may not smile at all at any attempt by the parent to make fun of him/her or, conversely, laugh when there is no reason for this.

Children with autism most often use gestures in communication and only for the purpose of expressing their needs and getting what they want.

A child with a similar problem is not able to find contact with peers, other children are simply not interested in him/her. The autistic kid is always away from other children and prefers to play independently, and any attempts to join his/her games end in tantrums and whims.

Another difference between an autistic child and a normal healthy baby aged 2-3 years is that they do not play role-playing games and are not able to come up with a game plot. Toys are not perceived as integral objects, for example, an autistic can only be interested in a wheel from a typewriter, and he/she will twist it for hours, instead of rolling a car.

A child with autism does not respond to the emotional communication of the parents, but if the mother disappears from sight, such a baby begins to show anxiety.

Communication disruption

Autists up to 5 years of age and older have a pronounced delay in speech development or mutism (complete lack of speech). The possibility of further speech development (after 5 years) depends on the severity of the course of the disease – with a severe form of autism, the child may not even begin to speak or outline his/her needs in short words – eat, drink, sleep. In most cases, speech, if present, is not connected, sentences are meaningless and represent a set of words. Many autistic people talk about themselves in the third person.

Abnormal speech is observed. If you ask such a child a question, he or she can only repeat the last words or answer something unrelated to the topic. In most cases, autistic children do not respond to their own name when someone calls them.

Stereotyped behavior

The following actions can be attributed to the stereotypical behavior of autistic children:

Early autism symptoms in children under one year of age

Attentive parents can notice the first signs of autism in a child under one year of age. In the first months of life, such babies show less interest in bright toys, they are less mobile, have scanty facial expressions. As they grow up (at the age of 5-6 months), babies with autism are practically not interested in objects near them, they do not try to grab them, while the muscle tone of their hands is developed normally.

Intelligence in a child with autism

Depending on the course of this disease, some signs of autism can also occur in the intellectual development of the child. In most cases, these babies have a slight mental retardation. Autistic children do not study well at school, do not remember school materials, cannot concentrate on lessons – all this is caused by the presence of anomalies and brain defects.

In the case when autism is caused by chromosomal developmental abnormalities, microcephaly or epilepsy, the child develops deep mental retardation. The main feature of this disease in children is selective intelligence. This means that sick children can show excellent success in certain fields of science – drawing, mathematics, reading, music, but at the same time they significantly lag behind in other subjects.

We should also mention avantism – a condition when an autistic child or adult is very gifted in any particular area. There are cases when autists could accurately reproduce a melody that they heard only once or quickly solve mathematical puzzles in the mind. The most famous autistic people in the world are Andy Kaufman, Albert Einstein, Woody Allen.

Types of autistic disorders

The most common types of autistic disorders are Asperger Syndrome and Rett Syndrome.

Asperger syndrome

This form of autism is relatively mild, and its first symptoms appear in children after 6-7 years. Features of Asperger syndrome are:

An autistic patient with Asperger’s syndrome can lead a completely normal life – to successfully study, graduate from high schools, create a family. All this is possible only if the necessary conditions for development and upbringing were created for such a child initially.

Rett syndrome

This form of autism is severe and is associated with abnormalities in the X chromosome. Rett’s syndrome appears only in girls. Male children who receive this broken chromosome die in the womb. Rett syndrome occurs in 1 case per 10,000 girls, the characteristic clinical symptoms of this form of the disease are:

Often, Rett syndrome is diagnosed as being paralleled with epilepsy or a delayed brain development. When making such a diagnosis, the prognosis is unfavorable, the disease is practically impossible to correct.

Autism diagnostic methods

External clinical signs of autism in a child of the first year of life are practically absent and only experienced parents who have more than 1 baby in the family manage to notice any developmental abnormalities. If there are already cases of autism in the family, then it is extremely important to carefully monitor the child and seek medical help in time if necessary. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the easier it will be for the child to adapt in the environment and society.

The main methods for diagnosing autism in children are:

Can autism be cured?

Parents whose children have been diagnosed with autism ask the doctor the same question – can this disease be cured? Autism is not treated, but with the help of methods of disease correction, you can significantly improve the condition of the child and help him/her adapt as much as possible in the world. Of course, parents need to work closely with teachers and perform routine activities for a long time, but the result of these efforts can bring great success.

A few recommendations for parents of autistic children:

Autism in young children is treated in stages. It is necessary to:

Behavioral treatment of autism in children

Behavioral treatment is the most common direction in the correction of autism. For a period of time, a specialist observes the behavior of an autist in order to find out the peculiarities of the course of his/her illness and the patient’s reaction to a particular irritant. After that, certain incentives are selected individually to help correct the behavior of the child. For some kids, such an incentive is a toy, for others, a treat or a favorite pastime. With such incentives, the specialist reinforces the desired reactions in the child, that is, if he/she has performed what is required of him/her, then the baby receives his/her encouragement. Thus, contact develops, skills are acquired, actions are fixed, signs of behavioral disorders are eliminated.

Speech therapy

Regardless of the degrees and types of autism, most children are still marked by impaired speech development, which prevents patients from expressing their desires and communicating with people around them. Regular individual lessons with a speech therapist allow achieving the correct construction of sentences and intelligibility of speech.

Acquisition of skills of self-care and being in society

Autistic children do not have self-care skills, they do not understand why they need to wash themselves daily, brush their teeth, dress, and adhere to the daily routine. To consolidate the necessary skills in a game form, the specialist uses cards to demonstrate the necessary daily actions in detail.

Drug therapy

Specialists resort to the use of medicines only in cases of destructive behavior disorders that prevent the baby from feeling normal in society and developing fully.

Sedatives, psychotropic drugs, and antipsychotics should be used only in case of emergency, parents of an autistic child should understand that crying and mood swings are much better than deep self-care and complete apathy to what is happening around.

You should not give the child Glycine, Valerian tablets or sleeping pills without a doctor’s prescription – such actions can seriously harm the baby.

Autism or another disease?

The clinical signs of autism in children are similar to the symptoms of certain diseases, so it is important not to self-medicate, but to immediately seek medical help. Such diseases (with similar clinical signs) include:


Parents whose children are diagnosed with autism should understand that this is by no means a sentence. Proper care of the baby, the creation and maintenance of a favorable family environment and regular classes with specialists help such a patient to grow up and be a full-fledged person, get an education and start a family.