All children develop in their own way, but in most cases, in this process, general trends can be identified: the desire to interact with other people, the phased mastering of speech, the complication of emotions and intellectual functions. For each age has its own rules.
Most disorders of mental development, including diseases of the autistic spectrum, can be seen already in the first years of life. Moreover, even professional diagnostics boils down to monitoring a child – a method available to parents. What is autism and how does it manifest itself?
It is not easy to answer this question. All children with autism are different from each other, the disease can manifest itself by completely different symptoms. In addition, the main problem is often joined by related: sleep disturbances, allergies, epilepsy, mental retardation.
What is autism?
The word “autismus” was first used by the Swiss psychiatrist E. Bleuler back in 1910. With his help, he described social disorders in schizophrenia. For the designation of a separate mental disorder that develops in childhood, this term was used by L. Kanner in 1943. The researcher identified 11 manifestations of early childhood autism.
In modern medicine, autism refers to a mental disorder that occurs as a result of impaired development of brain structures and is manifested by difficulties in social interaction, a decrease in cognitive activity and stereotypical actions.
The disease is characterized by a stable stable course, the persistence of symptoms in adults.
In recent decades, more and more children with autism spectrum disorders have been detected. It is still unknown what this is connected with: with the improvement of diagnostic methods or the appearance of external factors provoking the disease. In our country, statistics are not kept, but, for example, in the USA 1 out of 50 children suffers from autism.
Many parents are interested in the question: at what age does autism manifest itself? This disorder can develop in the first years of life, as well as in a later period. The changes are most noticeable in children from 1 to 3 years old, since it is at this moment that the communicative skills develop intensively, social contacts with other people are established.
Causes of Autism
The increase in the number of children with autism raises the question of the causes of this disorder. Over the years of research, scientists have determined that the disease is triggered by a certain set of risk factors.
Possible incentives for the development of autism are:
- modifications in the structure of genes;
- organic diseases of the central nervous system, such as encephalitis;
- metabolic pathologies, hormonal disorders;
- the effect of bacterial and viral infections;
- mercury poisoning (for example, with a vaccine);
- prolonged use of antibiotics;
- perinatal exposure to chemicals.
An important role is played by the hereditary predisposition of the child to autism. If present, any of the above factors can trigger the development of the disease.
Signs of autism depending on its type
The diagnosis of autism takes into account a wide range of clinical manifestations. The etiology of symptoms and their severity vary, so there is no single list for all children. The way autism manifests itself in a child in a particular case is partly determined by the type of disease:
- Kanner syndrome (early childhood autism, deep autism). Manifested by difficulties in the field of communication, problems of social adaptation, violation of the integration of signals from the organs of perception. The child often performs stereotypical actions, has a disturbance in speech, usually in the form of echolalia – repetitions of heard words and endings of phrases. Difficulties in social interaction are manifested by a lack of response to one’s name, avoidance of eye contact, a complete lack of words for up to 16 months.
- Atypical autism. The most mild form of the disease, in which the symptoms for a long time can go unnoticed. Disruption of social interaction is not always manifested as a complete rejection of them, often the child wants to contact with others, but does not know how. There are difficulties in understanding speech and expressing emotions, limited vocabulary. On the part of cognitive functions – the inflexibility and concreteness of thinking.
- Asperger syndrome. Violations are manifested mainly in the field of interaction with people around them. Social skills are formed with difficulty, interests and occupations are stereotypical, thinking is inflexible, and rituals and obsessive actions often appear. Adaptation occurs at the expense of normally developing cognitive functions: speech, memory, attention, intelligence.
- Violation of non-verbal learning abilities. Symptoms are similar to Asperger syndrome, in addition to them, hypersensitivity of the sensory organs, inability to establish non-verbal contacts, imbalances and grapomotorics, lack of visual thinking, concreteness of judgments, stereotypical behavioral programs are found.
- Complex developmental disorder. Manifestation of autism of this form – difficulties in social interaction and communication in combination with physical disorders. The disorder is divided into two types: Heller syndrome, in which the formation of motor, speech and social skills is impaired; Rett syndrome, in the clinical picture of which motor disturbances, ataxia, stereotype in hand motor skills, convulsions, as well as dulled emotions come to the fore.
- The syndrome of many complex developmental disorders. This form is manifested by changes in all spheres: emotional, communicative, behavioral, mental. In this case, there can be both a uniform violation of all components and a partial violation.
Thus, the manifestation of autism in children is heterogeneous. Experts talk about the spectrum of violations of this kind. Diagnosis requires a certain qualification from the doctor, psychologist and teacher. In especially difficult cases laboratory genetic methods of research can be applied.
Behavior of a child with autism
Monitoring the behavior of the child allows you to identify autism earlier. Pay attention to atypical manifestations should, first of all, parents. With all the variety of forms of the disease, one can single out common characteristic symptoms:
- Speech disorders. There may be varying degrees of expression: from the complete absence of words and sounds to a slight limitation of vocabulary with the difficulties of forming complex sentences. More often than not, a child under one year of age does not glitch, to two – he owns 10-15 words, to three – he is not able to combine them. From the qualitative changes are observed: echolalia – an echo-like repetition of the words heard, neologisms – invented words, appeal to yourself in the third person. In speech, there are no appeals and personal pronouns, it is not used for contact with another person.
- No need for emotional contact. Autistic children do not look into their eyes, do not ask for their hands, do not embrace with close people, do not smile back. When parents try to show feelings with the help of hugs, kisses or strokes – they resist. Because attachment does not form, they rarely single out mom and dad among other people. Do not respond to appeals and requests of others.
- The difficulties of socialization. In the presence of other people, an autistic child experiences discomfort, anxiety, and when someone approaches them too often, they often run away and hide. Such children do not participate in games, are not friends with anyone, because they cannot understand emotions and accept the rules. There is a constant desire for solitude, in which they feel calmer.
- Aggression. Emotion manifests paroxysmally, can be triggered by minor difficulties or limitations. Anger is splashed out by hysterics, shouts, physical attack. About a third of children have an auto-aggression – self-harm.
- Lack of interest in toys. The child does not understand how and why to play with objects. Concreteness of thinking does not allow transferring the real situation into the game plan. Of particular difficulty are symbolic actions in which one object replaces another, something similar to it (for example, using a pencil as a microphone, a stick as a horse). Often, toys are used for stereotyped movements, among the whole variety one is chosen, to which the child becomes overly attached and does not let it go for hours.
- Stereotypes In the behavior of children with autism, there is a pronounced tendency to commit monotonous, as a rule, meaningless actions for a long time. They can knock the object on the table, swing, run along a certain trajectory. Compulsive behavior manifests adherence to clear rules and regulations. It helps the child to feel more relaxed and confident.
Knowing how a child’s autism manifests itself, parents can detect symptoms at an early stage and promptly seek medical and educational assistance. The sooner the rehabilitation measures are started, the more favorable the prognosis.
Manifestations of autism in children under one year old
How does autism manifest in children under one year old? At this age it is still difficult to judge the interaction with peers and the peculiarities of thinking, but emotional and behavioral reactions already have certain features.
The baby is not smiling, there is no “revitalization complex” characteristic of newborns. Mimic expressions are scarce, emotions are mild, practically absent. The child’s gaze is directed towards an object, as a rule, the same. Motor activity is reduced.
The kid does not ask for hands, does not smile in response to the smile of an adult. Growing up, does not use gestures (indicating, demanding, etc.). Speech does not develop: there is no babbling, grunting, no response to your name. Many mothers mistakenly believe that their child is simply very calm in nature. He does not cause anxiety to parents, can play with himself for many hours, does not cry, does not show interest to people around him.
In rare cases, lag in growth and physical development is possible. In severe forms of the disease, the baby later sits down and begins to walk; concomitant diseases may appear: allergies, epilepsy, digestive disorders, and others.
Autism – a disease manifested by impaired mental development of the child. With all the variety of symptoms, the triad is key: disruption of social interaction, speech, and the presence of stereotyped actions. The ability of parents to determine autism in a child in the early stages allows time to seek specialized help.
Author: Olga Khanova, doctor, especially for