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It's a complex condition and may occur as a result of genetic predisposition a natural tendency , environmental or unknown factors. Most researchers believe that certain genes a child inherits from their parents could make them more vulnerable to developing ASD. Cases of ASD have been known to run in families. For example, younger siblings of children with ASD can also develop the condition, and it's common for identical twins to both develop ASD.

No specific genes linked to ASD have been identified, but it may be a presenting feature of some rare genetic syndromes, including Fragile X syndrome, Williams syndrome and Angelman syndrome. No conclusive evidence has been found linking pollution or maternal infections in pregnancy with an increased risk of ASD. See your GP or health visitor if your child is showing symptoms of autism spectrum disorder ASD , or you're worried about their development.

If appropriate, your GP can refer you to a healthcare professional or team who specialise in diagnosing ASD, or someone who has access to such a team. Some local health authorities use multidisciplinary teams. These are a combination of specialists who work together to make an assessment. When a child is diagnosed with ASD, many parents are keen to find out as much as they can about the condition. Some people with ASD grow up without their condition being recognised, but it's never too late to get a diagnosis.

Some people may be scared of being diagnosed because they feel it will "label" them, and lower other people's expectations of them.

Asperger syndrome - Wikipedia

But there are several advantages to getting a diagnosis. A diagnosis may also make it easier to access autism-specific services and claim benefits. See your GP if you think you may have ASD and ask them to refer you to a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. If you're already seeing a specialist for other reasons, you may want to ask them for a referral instead. There's no 'cure' for autism spectrum disorder ASD.

However, a range of specialist educational and behavioural programmes can help children with ASD. Some types of intervention can involve hours of intensive work, and this isn't always possible for many families because of the practical, emotional and financial commitments necessary. The National Autistic Society website has information about the many different strategies and approaches available for ASD.

The team may include:. Local autism teams should ensure that every child or young person diagnosed with ASD has a case manager or key worker to manage and co-ordinate their treatment, care and support, as well as their transition into adult care. The parents of a child with ASD play a crucial role in supporting their child and improving their skills. The Research Autism website is also a good source of information and has a section about the different issues that living with autism presents, including the impact of autism on the family.

Communication is particularly challenging for children with ASD. Helping your child to communicate can reduce anxiety and improve behaviour. In-depth advice and support programmes are available for parents of children recently diagnosed with ASD. The programme aims to inform and support parents, and offers practical advice about looking after their child and helping them improve their skills.

To find out if there's a team in your area, call or email earlybird nas. If your child's behaviour is causing problems, they'll be assessed for possible triggers, such as a physical health condition, mental health problem, or environmental factors. In cases where a child with ASD also has a mental health problem, such as anxiety , a psychological treatment may be offered. Psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy CBT , involve talking to a trained therapist about thoughts and feelings, and discussing how these affect behaviour and wellbeing.

In some cases, medication may be prescribed to treat some of the symptoms or conditions associated with ASD. For example:. These medications can have significant side effects and are usually only prescribed by a doctor who specialises in the condition being treated. If medication is offered, your child will have regular check-ups to assess whether it's working. A number of alternative treatments have been suggested for ASD. However, these should be avoided, because there's little or no evidence that they're effective and some may even be potentially dangerous.

Some people with autism spectrum disorder ASD grow up without their condition being recognised, sometimes through choice. However, a diagnosis can make it easier to access a range of support services that may be available locally. With a proper diagnosis, adults with ASD may be able to access local autism support services, if available in their area. You can search for services for adults using the Autism Services Directory. Adults with ASD may also benefit from some of the treatments offered to children with ASD, such as psychological therapy and medication.

UK to read more about benefits. Adults with ASD can live in all types of housing. Some people may be suited to a residential care home, while others may prefer to live on their own and receive home support. They may need hour care, or they may only need help with important tasks for a couple of hours each week. Read more about care assessments. It can be difficult for people with ASD to find a job. Sudden changes in routine can also be upsetting.

However, in the right job and with the right support, people with ASD have much to offer. They're often accurate, reliable, and have a good eye for detail. Being in a working environment can help the individual's personal development tremendously. If you're having problems getting a job or staying in a job, you may be able to access a supported employment programme in your local area. They can also help you choose which jobs would suit you and provide training for that role. See The National Autistic Society website to find help with getting a job.

Autistic spectrum disorder ASD See all parts of this guide Hide guide parts About autism spectrum disorder Characteristics of autism spectrum disorder Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder Causes of autism spectrum disorder Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder Treating autism spectrum disorder Adults living with autism. About autism spectrum disorder Autism spectrum disorder ASD is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. Read more about care and support , including information on: support and the benefits carers are entitled to carers' breaks and respite care What causes ASD?

Read more about the causes of ASD Autism in adults Some people with ASD had features of the condition as a child, but enter adulthood without ever being diagnosed. Characteristics of autism spectrum disorder The characteristics of autistic spectrum disorder ASD can vary both from person to person and across different environments. The traits of ASD can be divided into three main groups.

They are: social interaction social communication social imagination The first characteristics of ASD can sometimes be seen in a child who is under the age of two. Social interaction A person who has ASD may find it hard to relate to other people.

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They may: seem distant or detached have little or no interest in other people find it difficult to make friends not seek affection in the usual way, or resist physical contact such as kissing and cuddling find it difficult to make eye contact with other people want to have social contact, but have difficulty knowing how to initiate it not understand other people's emotions and have difficulty managing their own emotions prefer to spend time alone Social communication A person who has ASD may have difficulty using verbal and non-verbal skills, and some people may remain non-verbal throughout their lives.

Someone with ASD may also have difficulty: expressing themselves well understanding gestures, facial expressions or tones of voice using gestures to communicate understanding instructions Some people with ASD may develop echolalia, where they repeat words that have little meaning or repeat what has been said to them. Sensory difficulties Most people with ASD also have sensory difficulties. Asperger syndrome Asperger syndrome is another form of ASD.

Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder The main features of autism spectrum disorder ASD are problems with social communication and interaction. Causes of autism spectrum disorder The exact cause of autism spectrum disorder ASD is currently unknown. Commonly reported by parents; melatonin can improve sleep; also important to address sleep hygiene 24 — Increased risk in older adolescents and patients with lower cognitive ability Chronic constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain Information from references 2 , 18 , and 22 through Screening tools help identify children who may need a more thorough diagnostic assessment.

Formal screening is more effective than relying on clinical judgment alone. Preventive Services Task Force found insufficient evidence to make a recommendation for screening in children 18 to 30 months of age in whom no concerns of ASD are suspected. However, when used alone, it has poor positive predictive value and a high false-positive rate. A positive screening test result or parental concerns at any age should be followed by a structured interview and, if indicated, a referral for diagnostic assessment.

Relationships, Sexuality, and Intimacy in Autism Spectrum Disorders

The evaluation aims to definitively diagnose ASD, exclude conditions that mimic ASD, identify comorbid conditions, and determine the child's level of functioning. In the absence of a team, an individual clinician with expertise in evaluating ASD e. The evaluation should include a complete history and direct assessment of social communication skills and restricted, repetitive behaviors using a semi-structured tool e.

Performs evaluation when an underlying medical condition or genetic syndrome is suggested by family history, examination, or clinical course. Evaluates and treats associated psychiatric conditions and maladaptive behaviors. Identifies associated psychiatric conditions and develops behavioral treatment plan. Early intensive behavioral intervention is an immersive behavioral therapy for at least 25 hours per week that is recommended for preschool- to early school—aged children with ASD. It seeks to teach new skills by reinforcing desirable behaviors, encouraging generalization of these skills, and decreasing undesirable behaviors.

In a landmark study published in based on the principles of applied behavior analysis, one-half of the patients assigned to treatment were able to be placed in a neurotypical classroom and complete first grade. This rigorous review found a growing body of evidence that an applied behavior analysis—based early intensive behavioral intervention delivered over an extended time frame leads to improvement in cognitive ability, language, and adaptive skills. Strong evidence shows that cognitive behavior therapy substantially reduces anxiety symptoms in older children with ASD who have average to above-average IQ.

Targeted play has led to improvements in early social communication skills. Although there is no medication available to treat the composite symptoms of ASD, medical management can be a beneficial adjunct. Medical treatment targets specific maladaptive behaviors for which intensive behavioral therapy has not been effective. Underlying conditions such as headaches, sinusitis, and gastrointestinal disorders can mimic or increase behavior symptoms common to ASD.

These conditions should be ruled out before initiating targeted therapy. Aripiprazole Abilify and risperidone Risperdal are the only medications approved by the U. These atypical antipsychotics are approved for ASD-associated irritability and, in some trials, have proven beneficial for treating aggression, explosive outbursts, and self-injury. Subspecialty referral should be strongly considered for these treatments. Stimulants such as methylphenidate Ritalin may prove beneficial in children with comorbid ADHD, but treatment effects are less significant than in children without ASD and adverse effects are more common.

Non—stimulant-based treatments may have a larger role in children with comorbid ADHD and have shown fewer adverse effects. Families of children with ASD are likely to try complementary and alternative treatments. There is strong evidence that melatonin helps manage sleep disorders, improves daytime behavior, and has minimal adverse effects. Massage can be performed by parents and has no evidence of harm.

Vitamin B 6 and magnesium in larger doses have been studied for use in children with ASD to improve behavior, speech, and language. Results were equivocal, and at supratherapeutic doses, there is risk of neuropathy from vitamin B 6 and diarrhea from magnesium toxicity. Outcome markers for adults with ASD include independent living, employment, friendship, and marriage. Early studies found that more than one-half of infants with autism were institutionalized. A high percentage of patients were described as having poor or very poor outcomes.

A study examined diagnostic stability as a marker of prognosis. Diagnostic severity and IQ levels were the best predictors of future function.

1. Introduction

The mildest class of ASD was dropped from this analysis, which left a bias toward more severe presentations. A small percentage of children with a documented history of ASD no longer meet diagnostic criteria and reach normal cognitive function. These children achieve an optimal outcome. When compared with a high-functioning ASD cohort, children with optimal outcomes had earlier referrals and more intensive interventions with more applied behavior analysis therapy and fewer pharmacologic interventions.

Some articles have reframed the lens of rating scales by incorporating the patient's opinion as well as the parent's or caregiver's rating. These studies reflect a higher percentage of positive outcomes for patients with ASD based on the person-environment fit. Increasing daytime recreational activities and community inclusion improved the person-environment fit, resulting in higher levels of satisfaction.

Additional studies that consider the entire autistic spectrum are needed to help clarify individual prognosis. This article updates a previous article on this topic by Carbone, et al. Data Sources: Essential Evidence Plus was reviewed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website was reviewed for content and references.

Search references were limited to and greater first; however, if limited options returned, the timeline was expanded to older references. Certain articles contained reviews of RCTs, and these references were also directly searched. Search dates: August to October Additional searches were made from March to April adding the terms severity and environment al risk factors.

They also thank Susan Ebbinghouse, medical librarian, for facilitating the literature search.

Life Course Health Development in Autism Spectrum Disorders

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the U. Already a member or subscriber? Log in. At the time the article was submitted, Dr. Address correspondence to Kristian E. Reprints are not available from the authors. Kanner L. Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child. Prevalence and characteristics of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years - Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 sites, United States, Trends in the prevalence of developmental disabilities in US children, — Global prevalence of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders.

Autism Res. Blenner S, Augustyn M. Is the prevalence of autism increasing in the United States? Autism: why the rise in rates? J Fam Pract. Changes in prevalence of parent-reported autism spectrum disorder in school-aged U. Natl Health Stat Report. American Psychiatric Association. Heritability of autism spectrum disorder in a UK population-based twin sample. JAMA Psychiatry.

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