Autism Spectrum Disorder: Why Is It Considered as a Spectrum?

Spectrum literally means that there are many different points within a certain range. A spectrum, like a fan or a rainbow, should also be remembered as a range in which there are many different states. The reason why Autism Spectrum Disorder is called spectrum is that the symptoms observed in autism are at different levels in each child. In some children with autism, all features can be completely observed, while in some children some symptoms are much milder.

Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD for short, is a medical condition that affects how an individual perceives and socializes with others in the development of the brain, and therefore causes problems in social interaction and communication. The disease also includes behavior patterns that cannot go beyond certain boundaries or that are repetitive. The term “spectrum” as used within the autism spectrum disorder refers to symptoms that span a wide spectrum and the degree of symptoms.

Autism spectrum disorder develops at the beginning of childhood and ultimately causes the individual to encounter problems in society, such as social life, school, or working life. Symptoms of autism appear in the first year after birth. In rare cases, normal development continues in the child during the first year, and then, as autism symptoms appear, the children go through a period of remission between 18 and 24 months.

Although it is not possible to fully cure autism spectrum disorder, early and intensive treatment can make a big and important difference in a child’s life in many cases.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is delayed or not completely delayed development in language skills, social interaction, and abstract perception. Stereotypical activities and behaviors are very common in children with this condition. These conditions seen in children with autism are completely independent of intelligence or mental function capacity. This is due to the different functions of certain regions in the brain. The autism spectrum is due to the variation between mild or no symptoms and very pronounced symptoms.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is diagnosed according to internationally agreed diagnostic systems. There are different diagnostic criteria for all disorders in the spectrum. In order to be diagnosed with autism, abnormal developmental features should have started before the age of 3 in children, and deterioration in social communication should be observed. All the features are seen must show a certain number of symptoms and cannot be explained by other medical diagnoses.

Congenital autism spectrum disorder is also defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder. Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder do not appear immediately after the child is born. It shows itself more after reaching a certain age. Especially in children after the age of 3, the problems are more pronounced due to the nature of autism symptoms. Nevertheless, it is very important for a child on the autism spectrum to have the chance of early intervention by observing the symptoms that appear before the age of 3.

Today, it is not known what causes autism spectrum disorder, but there is evidence that it is genetically based. However, it is not yet known which gene or genes are responsible. There are opinions that environmental factors can also lead to autism. There is a lot of research on the effects of both genetic bases and environmental factors.

Autism has nothing to do with the child-rearing characteristics or the economic conditions of the family. For this reason, autism spectrum disorder is encountered in all kinds of societies, different geographies, races, and families.

There is no single known cause of autism spectrum disorder. It has been suggested that both genetic factors and environmental factors play different roles. However, medical professionals know for sure that there is no link between vaccines and an autism spectrum disorder. Today, the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is increasing compared to the past.

Looking at genetic factors, several different genes appear to play a role in autism spectrum disorder. In some cases, autism spectrum disorder may be associated with a genetic disorder called Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome (FXS), also known as fragile X syndrome. In other cases, genetic mutations can increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder.

Apart from these, other genes can affect brain development, the way brain cells communicate between them, or determine the severity of symptoms. It has been observed that some genetic mutations, that is, changes, are inherited, while others appear spontaneously.

Looking at environmental factors, researchers are currently investigating whether factors such as viral infections, drugs are taken during pregnancy, complications or air pollution play a role in triggering autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder can affect children in all corners of the world, but certain factors can increase the risk of developing this disorder.

Types of Autism Spectrum Disorders

The diagnoses seen in the autism spectrum disorder group are different from each other. Each diagnosis occurs at different times and with separate symptoms. Types of autism in this group are:

  • Childhood autism
  • Rett disorder
  • Atypical autism
  • Disintegrative disorder
  • High-functioning autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • PDD not otherwise named

The most basic diagnosis among these types of autism is the diagnosis of autism seen in childhood. Normal development is observed in the first 5 months in Rett disorder. The discomfort, which manifests itself with a decrease in the growth in the head part after 5 months, continues with disruption in communication and occurs with impaired gait, hand, and arm movements.

Disintegrative disorder observed in childhood occurs with a decrease in social communication and interaction in children with normal development up to the age of 2. Spectrum disorder, which is observed as Asperger’s syndrome, is seen in social interaction disorder.

Correct diagnosis is very important in terms of choosing the correct treatment method. Being diagnosed does not mean that this condition will remain for life. With the appropriate and effective treatment methods, the symptoms of the disease decrease and complete recovery over time. There is no treatment method that will completely eliminate autism. However, the methods that can be applied to minimize the symptoms of children with autism spectrum disorders are:

  • Special education
  • Medication that facilitates education
  • Physical education
  • Behavioral therapy

The Importance of Early Diagnosis

  • If your child is not making eye contact with others,
  • If your child doesn’t look when you say his/her name,
  • If your child pretends not to hear what is being said,
  • If your child doesn’t point to what he/she wants with his finger,
  • If your child does not know how to play with toys,
  • If your child is not interested in the games their peers play,
  • If your child says certain words over and over again in unrelated situations,
  • If your child lags behind their peers in speaking,
  • If your child has strange movements such as shaking or struggling,
  • If he is overly mobile, always behaves in his own way,
  • If your child’s eyes are stuck on something,
  • If your child is doing unusual movements such as turning or lining up some items,
  • If your child overreacts to changes in daily life,

It is necessary to evaluate in terms of autism. Approximately 50% of children who receive intensive education with early diagnosis and a correct education method can control the symptoms of autism, develop development, make great progress, and even some children with autism may not be different from their friends when they reach adolescence.

Autism is the most common neurological disorder encountered today and according to the data of the Centers for Disease Control Prevention, autism was seen in 1 out of every 150 children in 2006, and according to the latest information given in 2018, 1 out of 59 children ore observed with autism.

It is emphasized that autism can be seen in all races, ethnic groups, or groups with different social statuses, and there is no link between the family’s income, lifestyle, and education level, and an autism spectrum disorder.

Although there are different prevalence information in relation to gender, the common view is that it is seen more in boys than in girls. Various degrees of learning disability and mental retardation can be seen in most children diagnosed with autism.

The term autism has been replaced by the term autism spectrum disorders (ASD – autism spectrum disorders) over time. The main cases associated with the concept of autism spectrum disorder can be listed as follows;

  • Autism spectrum disorder is thought to be caused by neurological causes. In a significant proportion (approximately 35%) of individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, due to abnormal electrical movements in the brain; seizure, involuntary movements, loss of consciousness, etc. neurological problems can also be seen.
  • Autism spectrum disorder is not a mental illness; however, its symptoms may recall some mental illnesses.
  • Scientific research has shown that autism spectrum disorder is not related to child-rearing characteristics or the socio-economic characteristics of the family.
  • There is evidence that autism spectrum disorder may be inherited; however, the gene or genes that cause this have not yet been found.
  • In previous years, the incidence of autism spectrum disorder was considered to be 1 in 500, according to recent data, it is thought that autism spectrum disorder affects approximately one in every 59 children. In addition, its prevalence in boys is 4.3 times higher than girls.
  • Contrary to popular belief, most individuals with autism spectrum disorder have different levels of mental retardation. In addition, in intelligence tests, certain areas can be much more backward than in other areas.
  • Very few (about 10%) of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder have a very strong memory, musical ability, etc. superior features are found.

There is no specific autism test to diagnose autism spectrum disorder. The specialist may recommend a variety of developmental tests that determine the presence or absence of responses to detect delays in the child’s cognitive, language, and social skills:

  • The child does not start to smile or react with a happy expression until the 6th month,
  • The child does not start copying voices or facial expressions until the 9th month,
  • The child does not start chattering or muttering until the 12th month,
  • The child does not start waving or pointing until the 14th month,
  • The child does not start saying a word until the 16th month,
  • If the child does not start believing in imitation or lying until the 18th month,
  • The child does not start saying two-word phrases until the 24th month,
  • The child’s use of language or loss of social skills at any age.

Plastic Visual ASD Weekly Planner (Picture Communication Symbols)

It is a perfect weekly planner if you have someone with an autism spectrum disorder in your life. It has all the necessities you are going to need in order to plan all the activities. There are many blanks on it to write everything down. It is made of durable material and it is perfect to plan the weeks. It provides easiness in order to plan the week. At the beginning of the week, you can erase everything with your child and you can re-plan every activity with your child again. It boosts social communication as well. Overall, you will be very satisfied with this planner.

Stages Learning Materials Language Builder Flashcards, Noun Flashcards, Autism Learning Picture Cards

These are perfect educational cards in order to teach some basic stuff to individuals on the autism spectrum. There are 350 different photo cards in one package. These pictures are very realistic and attractive. They get the attention of your child easily. There are 9 main topics. These are food, clothes, toys, shapes, colors, animals, vehicles, furniture, and objects. They are made of durable material. They are easy to clean, easy to play with, and easy to store. They are helpful in the case of labeling in both receptive and expressive, matching, and sorting. They will be extra beneficial to children on the autism spectrum. Overall, it is a very recommended educational set.

Learning Resources Mental Blox Critical Thinking Game, Homeschool, 20 Blocks, 20 Activity Cards, Ages 5+

It is beneficial for both children on the autism spectrum and normally developed children. It helps to develop analytic and critical thinking skills. It is a beneficial set for education. It is fun, educational, beneficial, and convenient as well. The child can take this everywhere with themselves. There are 20 different plastic blocks in different shapes and 20 different activities with different attributions cards in it. The child can establish different games with this set for different purposes. It is something completely depends on their imagination.

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