Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects the behavior and communication styles of people with this disorder.
This is a disease that affects children and adults. However, the symptoms vary from person to person. The severity of ASD symptoms also varies. Some people may only experience mild symptoms during their lifetime, while others may experience more severe conditions. If left untreated, the severity of ASD may worsen.
In children with autism, symptoms may start early and continue into adulthood. In severe cases, symptoms may interfere with daily functions.
Signs and symptoms
Although many people with this disease may have many similar signs and symptoms, they look a little different in children and adults.
Symptoms of autism in children
The symptoms of autism in children fall into two broad categories: communication difficulties and restrictive repetitive behaviors. Children may also experience sensory problems and may find themselves over-stimulated or under-stimulated by sound, light, smell, or pain.
This is a common symptom in children and adults. For example, people with autism may have difficulty speaking, maintaining eye contact, controlling facial expressions, or repeating gestures.
These are some other ways that communication challenges may manifest in people with this disease:
- They may not respect people’s personal space.
- When they are called by their name, they will not respond, especially when they are very young.
- It is difficult for them to play with children of the same age.
- They find it difficult to understand other people’s emotions, and in some cases, they don’t know that they hurt other people’s feelings.
- They are often distracted between conversations.
- They may sometimes speak in a tone different from their normal tone and stay in this state for a period of time.
- They may find it difficult to understand nonverbal cues.
Restricted and repetitive behavior
If you are not familiar with children with autism, they may engage in certain seemingly atypical behaviors. They may also repeat these behaviors frequently.
Some restrictive and repetitive behaviors exhibited by children with autism include:
- Arrange personal items in a specific order and feel upset when they are out of order
- Repeat specific words or phrases multiple times
- Repeat certain gestures over and over again. For example, they may go around several times or clap their hands repeatedly.
- Adhere to a strict schedule, and get upset when anyone or something disrupts their schedule
- When they find things or activities they are interested in, they may become obsessed. For example, children with ASD may refuse to go to bed or engage in any activities if they do not wear their favorite hat.
- Engaging in activities that may lead to self-harm, such as repeatedly hitting the wall with the head
Some other signs of ASD in children who do not fall into any of the above categories include:
- Experience a delay in the development of language skills. This means that they may start talking later than their peers.
- Exhibit hyperactive and impulsive behavior
- Experiencing mild to severe mood swings
- Have unusual sleeping habits
- Have unusual eating habits. Children with autism may only eat at certain times, refuse to eat certain foods, or show such a strong preference for certain foods that they need to include these foods in almost every meal.
Symptoms of autism in adults
Autism tends to look a little different in adults with this disorder. Research has also shown that men and women have slightly different autism profiles. Women with autism may be quieter and show fewer obvious symptoms. This usually makes it difficult for adult women to diagnose this condition.
Some common symptoms experienced by adults with autism include:
- Adhere to very strict routines and feel upset when their routines are disturbed the slightest
- Experience anxiety even in the smallest social situations and tend to be more willing to be isolated
- They may understand things very literally. For example, they may not understand or accept sarcasm.
- Difficult to express oneself emotionally
- It is difficult to control one’s tone when needed. For example, even if they did not intentionally, they may be rude or arrogant to people.
- Try to make or maintain eye contact with others
Complications and complications
Studies have shown that people with autism have obvious mental and physical disorders, such as ADHD and sleep disorders. These conditions may last a lifetime, or they may decrease in severity at different stages of the condition.
Many concurrent diseases are often difficult to diagnose, because people with autism often have difficulty communicating.
Some of the most common comorbid conditions that people with autism may encounter include:
- Epilepsy: People with autism may also suffer from epilepsy such as epilepsy. Some studies indicate that as many as 25% to 40% of people with autism suffer from epilepsy.
- Eating disorders: People with autism sometimes suffer from obesity and anorexia caused by eating disorders. This is usually the result of a selective eating pattern, which is a common symptom of the disease.
- Sleep disorders: Some studies indicate that as many as 50% to 80% of children with autism suffer from sleep disorders. They may find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.
Asperger’s syndrome (AS) was previously classified separately from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and ASD. However, in the latest version of the manual, AS has been grouped with ASD. Therefore, people who were previously diagnosed with AS are now considered to belong to the autism spectrum.
As children with autism grow up, with proper care, some of these symptoms may disappear or lessen. However, autism is a lifelong disease and there is currently no cure.
If your child or someone you know is familiar with any of these signs and symptoms, it is best to discuss with your doctor. Sometimes the symptoms of ASD may also indicate other developmental disorders.