Classic autism, or autistic disorder, is considered to be the most extreme
form of developmental disability on the
autism spectrum. It is usually diagnosed by the age of 3 and affects males 5 times more
than females. A complex neurobehavioral condition, the severity can range
from an impairment that limits normal activity to an overwhelming disability
requiring institutional care.
Individuals with autism are often described as "living in their own
world." They have extreme difficulty with communication, empathy,
and forming attachments. Demonstrating very little interest in others,
autistic children and adults center their attention on routine and / or
Symptoms of autistic disorder can include:
- Preoccupation with moving objects, lights, or parts of objects
- Rocking, pacing, or hand flapping
- Delay in language development
- Sensitivity to everyday noise, touch, or smell
- Focus on ritual and / or routine
- Disinterest or lack of awareness in surroundings or other people
- Word and phrase repetition
Diagnosing Autistic Disorder
There is no single medical test, such as an MRI or blood test, to diagnosis
autistic disorder. Diagnosis is a complex process involving developmental
screenings and evaluations. Children who have known
risk factors for autism are usually closely monitored for developmental delays and other signs
of the disability.
If delays in development are identified, the child will undergo a comprehensive
evaluation to ascertain if autism is the cause. This evaluation may include:
- Genetic, neurological, hearing, and vision testing
- Complete review of the child's behavior tendencies
- Referral to a specialist such as a developmental pediatrician, child neurologist,
and / or child psychologist
Early Identification of Autism
Most researchers and medical specialists agree that early identification
is vital for optimal intervention and treatment of autism. Currently,
investigative studies are being conducted on methods to detect susceptibility
for the disability, what triggers autism development, and possible measures
to lessen the risk.
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) article suggested
the possibility of detecting
fetal predisposition factors. This same article made note that children born to parents with an autoimmune
disease have a higher risk for the development of an autism spectrum disorder
(ASD). A prior history of miscarriages and / or a previous birth of a
child with ASD appears to increase the risk.
Not surprisingly, reproductive immunologists are in a unique position to
investigate these possible correlations. At
Braverman Reproductive Immunology, we are one of the world's top infertility treatment centers and are
currently leading a discussion forum on this topic.
Women who have a previous history of miscarriage, who have a child diagnosed
with ASD, and are concerned about the risk of autism for future children
are urged to join in the conversation.