Little Minka's Boutique Blog, by Irene Dixon

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New Challenges with Autism

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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It's been awhile that I wrote something and I struggled with topics, but after this past week I realized I just need to get this off my chess. I know most mom's can relate and I want to create awareness regarding this. So many people do no know what it is or what it is called.

Yes I am talking about Autism!! The last thing you want to hear is that your child have Autism. But now a days it is called Autism Spectrum Disorder.

On Monday 26 June we took our son to see a neurologist pediatrician to get some answers to why he is struggling in school. I knew as a mom that there was something wrong and I could not point my finger at it. I researched ADHD and found no it could not be this, my 6th sense told me it was something totally different than what everybody think it is. Then after the whole assessment was done the Doctor asked me if I ever wondered if he might have autism. So here I am like no why? He looks normal how can she say he has autism? There is nothing wrong with him. But after she explained to me what it is and what she is looking at I started to understand.

Now I understand as a mom how misunderstood autism really is! What we portray about autism and what we think it should look like is totally different. I never knew that you get more than one diagnosis or types of Autism. According to me it was a child that could not communicate properly and was totally in it's own world. Until I started to learn about Asperger's Syndrome.

What is Asperger's and how does it effect my child? What now? How must I help him? This is all questions that came into mind on Monday evening when we drove back home. I was so overwhelmed that I started to cry. Then I realized now I have answers and now I can give it a name and not just wonder what is wrong.

Then when I started to tell friends and family I realized how little anybody know what Asperger's or in general what Autism Spectrum Disorder is. So this came to mind to blog about it and make others aware of it so they also know the signs and what to look for.

In short I will tell you from research what it is and what the symptoms are. Just remember that each child is different and at their own level. There is no one that has the same symptoms or disorder.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, “a spectrum,” of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability.

People with ASD often have these characteristics:

  • Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others
  • Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities
  • Symptoms that typically are recognized in the first two years of life
  • Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life

Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled. Treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function. Families with concerns should talk to their pediatrician about what they’ve observed and the possibility of ASD screening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 1 in 68 children has been identified with some form of ASD.

Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age.  Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.

Who is affected?

ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but are almost five times more common among boys than among girls. CDC estimates that about 1 in 68 children (2014 CDC) has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Types of ASD

There are three different types of Autism Spectrum Disorders:

  • Autistic Disorder (also called "classic" autism)
    This is what most people think of when hearing the word "autism."  People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.
  • Asperger Syndrome
    People with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder.  They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests.  However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Developmental DisorderNot Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called "atypical autism")
    People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder.  The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.

Signs and Symptoms to look out for:

ASDs begin before the age of 3 and last throughout a person's life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with an ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms might not show up until 24 months or later. Some children with an ASD seem to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had.
A person with an ASD might:

  • Not respond to their name by 12 months
  • Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
  • Not play "pretend" games (pretend to "feed" a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people's feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Give unrelated answers to questions
  • Get upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel 

Please note that they might not have all of these symptoms at once. Some stand out more than others.

Causes and Risk Factors:

Scientist do not know all of the causes of ASDs.  However, they have learned that there are likely many causes for multiple types of ASD.  There may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have ASD, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors.

  • Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop an ASD.
  • Children who have a sibling or parent with an ASD are at a higher risk of also having an ASD.
  • ASDs tend to occur more often in people who have certain other medical conditions. About 10% of children with an ASD have an identifiable genetic disorder, such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders.
  • Some harmful drugs taken during pregnancy have been linked with a higher risk of ASDs, for example, the prescription drugs thalidomide and valproic acid.
  • We know that the once common belief that poor parenting practices cause ASDs is not true.
  • There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASDs occurs before birth. However, concerns about vaccines and infections have led researchers to consider risk factors before and after birth.

I hope this helps you to understand more about autism and what it is about. The point I want to get across here is that these children are special and unique. They are our angel children. They are fragile and sensitive in more ways than we think. In my next post I will talk more about Asperger's and how it is influencing me and my son's life. To give you a insight view of the challenges we face daily with school work and our surroundings.

If you would like to talk to me or give me support or anything you would like to add you are more than welcome to contact me on irene@littleminkas.co.za