What is Autism?

What is Autism?

For a parent of a child with autism, it can be a confusing time when it comes to getting the proper diagnosis. However, as many parents that have children with autism will tell you, learning about their child’s diagnosis did not rob them from the joy of parenting. In fact, many parents are relieved when they discover their children has autism because it answers a lot of questions and concerns they had since the child was an infant.

Millions of children are diagnosed with autism, or autism-related disorders, such as Rett Syndrome or Asperger’s Syndrome. While autism is a commonly known word, few people know what is autism and what isn’t.

Autism affects the brain development and can be characterized in many different ways. Common characteristics of this disorder include challenges with your child socializing with others, as well as how they communicate verbally and non-verbally. Children with autism may also have challenges with motor skills and attention skills, as well as difficulties with their emotions. Autism has varying degrees, so many children can be diagnosed with severe autism or on the other side of the scale with high-functioning autism.

How is Autism Diagnosed?

There is no special test for doctors to definitely tell what is autism. Instead, they analyze the child and their development. There is a Modified Checklist for Toddler (M-Chat) that many doctors use to see if your child needs to be tested further. However, as a parent, you may notice strange behavior early in development that could be a sign of autism. Signs of autism include unusual repetitive behavior, poor or no eye contact, or when a child does not respond to their name or when you ask them questions.

If you feel as if your infant or child may be showing signs of autism, do not be afraid to ask your child’s pediatrician. Get a better idea of what is autism and ask your pediatrician his or her professional opinion on whether or not your infant or child has autism.

How Do You Treat Autism?

While discovering that your child has autism may be a scary and challenging thing, you may actually find relief in the diagnosis. Understanding the diagnosis allows parents to better understand their child and even participate in treatment and early intervention therapies. When autism is discovered in an individual later in life, that individual may also find relief because they have struggled socially, emotionally, or educationally their whole life, without truly knowing why.

While many children with autism have the same behaviors and similar challenges, each case of autism is unique to that particular child. Therefore, each treatment plan should be based off of the child’s needs, both physically and mentally. If treatment is started early enough, such as when the child is still a toddler, her or she may be able to develop into an individual with high-functioning autism.

Learning about what is autism and how it relates to your child does not have to be a scary process. There are many informational sites and programs available, as well as several support groups for parents with children with autism. Discovering that your child has autism may be just the key you needed to meet his or her needs better and strengthen your parent-child bond.

Photo by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

Resource: Autism Speaks

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