What is autism?
Autism is a disease that affects children but does not disappear as they grow older. It is mainly characterised by a difficulty in having normal social relationships and in communicating. Boys are particularly affected: they are 4 times more likely than girls to have autism.
What are the signs of autism?
People with autism generally have withdrawn behaviour and cannot assimilate social behaviour. Problems with communication, social interaction, repetitive and stereotypical behaviour are manifestations of autism.
Autism can now be detected at an early age (from one and a half years of age) thanks to certain symptoms. Here are the symptoms that can be used to diagnose autism in very young children:
- Child too calm
- Rarely smiles
- Movement coordination and motor problems
- No stress or curiosity about people outside the family
- Limited or non-existent speech
- Fixed gaze on certain objects or elements whose movements are repeated
- Intellectual retardation
What are the different forms of autism?
There are 3 different forms of autism-related diseases:
Infantile autism: it is the disease of autism that affects the behaviour, communication and social interactions of the patient from childhood. This disorder persists into adulthood.
Asperger's syndrome: this is a disease for which patients have behavioural disorders. Difficulty in socialising, withdrawal, coordination problems are characteristics. However, patients are not intellectually retarded and sometimes have an excellent memory and therefore a great culture. They can sometimes be gifted. But their illness manifests itself in a very "stuffy" language, a particular speech, an inability to distinguish emotions from others and a great sensitivity to noises and what surrounds them. Habits, rules reassure the patient.
Atypical autism: it is a developmental disorder that is called atypical because it does not fully correspond to the definition of "classical" autism. Some symptoms may be absent, or autism disease may occur later, making it atypical.
What are the origins of autism?
Autism is a disease with genetic origins. The transmitted genetic mutation is believed to come from genes whose role is to form the nervous system. Certain chemical components that allow the brain to function optimally are also believed to be affected in autism disease. This would be the case for glutamate, GABA or serotonin.
What are the treatments for autism?
There is no cure for autism yet, but there are several measures that can be taken to manage the autistic person and help him or her to become less withdrawn into their own world.
Autism management is personalised according to the child's disorders and needs. In relation with the parents, a review can be established to see what points to work on to help the autistic child open up to others.
Several specialists can intervene to follow the autistic person: speech therapist for language, occupational therapist, psychotherapist...
Work on language and motor skills may be carried out in hospitals or specialised institutions.
Similarly, school integration will be a sought-after step. For some autistic children, a classroom assistant will follow them and help them adapt to the school environment.
Published 2 Aug 2018