Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterized by a developmental disability that can result in social, behavioural and communication difficulties. The spectrum within the name comes from the fact that individuals with autism can vary on the spectrum in terms of the degree to which their autism affects them. The behavioural, rational and situation-solving capabilities of people with autism can differ from some being gifted and some having extreme challenges performing basic functions.
People with ASD might show the following symptoms:
- Struggling to show and understand others emotions
- Repetition of specific phrases, words or actions
- Avoidance of eye contact and a will to stay isolated, away from people and noises
- Difficulty in relating to others and their feelings
- Challenge in pointing to objects or looking at objects that others point to
- Extreme difficulties in changes in environment and routine
- Not wanting to be held physically (cuddled, hugged)
In general, it seems that individuals with ASD have a tendency to repeat actions continuously, have a set routine that they don’t want changed, and have overall difficulties in communicating and expressing social and emotional needs.
There are several factors that cause ASD, and all the causes haven’t been found. However, some causes that have been verified are:
- Genes: These have been found to pose one of the biggest risk factors for a development of ASD
- Certain prescription drugs during pregnancy (valproic acid and thalidomide) have shown to increase chances of developing ASD
- Children who have parents that are older than the typical child rearing ages have a chance of developing ASD
Overall, biological, environmental and genetic factors all play a role in the likelihood of an individual developing ASD.