Autism didn’t become an official diagnosis until the 1980’s, and researchers are still trying to demystify the condition 30 years later. There have been many advancements in the way autism is diagnosed, treated and managed, and we now have a much better understanding than we did decades ago. Check out these autism FAQs, including symptoms, causes and treatment options.
What Is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects a person’s ability to understand social cues, communicate their thoughts effectively, feel empathy or focus on a topic. As the name implies, this condition includes a spectrum of symptoms and experiences. Every person with autism has unique challenges and strengths.
What Causes Autism?
There is no specific cause of autism. Research indicates that it results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain people may be more at risk of developing autism based on their genetics and environment, but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily develop autism.
Autism is not associated with vaccines. Scientists have conducted countless studies to negate this rumor, and they all produce the same conclusion: vaccines do not cause autism.
Autism Symptoms – What Does Autism Look Like?
Common symptoms of autism include:
- Repetitive movements
- Limited eye contact
- Language development delays
- Self-abusive behaviors (head banging, hair pulling, etc.)
- Intense focus on a specific thought pattern
- Literal interpretations/difficulty understanding jokes and implications
- Blunt statements, which may come across as rude or inappropriate
- Social isolation and difficulty playing with peers
- Pacing or fidgeting
- Lack of empathy
- Using odd words or statements in response to questions
- Screaming and crying (typically when they cannot find the words to express their needs)
As we mentioned above, autism is a spectrum. Some children with ASD may only exhibit some of these symptoms. Some may have mild versions of certain symptoms and severe versions of other symptoms.
Strengths That Come with Autism
The symptoms of autism sound mostly negative, but there are plenty of strengths that come with this condition. At CNLD Testing & Therapy, we focus on helping people find their unique strengths and abilities to help them overcome difficult situations. Children, teens and adults can benefit from this approach, especially when it comes to big life transitions.
Autism often results in:
- Advanced reading, math and science skills
- The ability to memorize information quickly
- An acute attention to detail that can benefit a range of projects
- Punctual timing
- Strong organization skills
- Intense concentration when motivated
- Honesty, loyalty and reliability
- Great long-term memory, able to recall small details from months or years prior
- Logical thinking
- Alternative perspectives that provide a unique solution to a problem
- Good sense of direction
- Ability to visualize large-scale issues (like they illustrate Dr. Murphy doing on the show Good Doctor)
Before you panic about an autism diagnosis, look at the whole picture. If your child is diagnosed with ASD, he or she can still lead a full, happy life.