What is Autism?
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized as a behavioral syndrome that compromises lifelong development.
The main alterations identified are the deficit in the areas of communication and socialization, restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities.
With the correct treatment, the autistic person can have a normal life, depending on the level of severity of the disorder. Typically, signs of autism can be identified before 36 months of age.
During childhood, this disorder is often called infantile autism, a behavior syndrome that predominates in boys and causes children to have different behavioral reactions. The main symptom of childhood autism is isolation.
The causes of autism are still unknown, but several studies suggest that the cause can vary between genetic factors or something of an external nature, such as complications during pregnancy or the sequel of an infection caused by a virus.
Types of autism
The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder is classified into three main types.
Although the impairment can vary greatly, when framed in this degree of autism, the person can be turned in on himself.
Lack of eye contact, difficulty understanding, and major mental disorders may occur.
High performance autism
This degree of autism was formerly called Asperger Syndrome.
The symptoms are similar to those of other types of autism, but in very reduced proportions. High performers with autism can be verbal and also intelligent to the point of being mistaken for geniuses.
Global Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
Also represented by the acronym (DGD-SOE), the Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is difficult to diagnose as it does not present enough symptoms to be included in one of the categories of the disorder.
Despite this, carriers are classified within the autism spectrum.
Characteristics of autism
There are several degrees of autism, with different levels of severity, with the most striking characteristics among carriers being:
- Difficulty in establishing social interactions,
- Compulsive interest in something,
- Presence of repetitive behaviors.
In fact, the difficulty in establishing social interactions is also due to the fact that the autistic person has difficulties in understanding and applying social norms, which are usually learned based on observation and intuition.
Autistics can still have sensory disorders, which make them have a different perception of the world around them. For example, high hearing sensitivity is common. This makes them annoyed by noises that would not disturb a person who is not autistic.
It should be noted that autism does not mean “lack of intelligence”, since there are autistic people at all IQ levels (high, medium and low).
The main barrier faced by the autistic is the difficulty in communicating and expressing their distinct way of interpreting the world around them.
Difficulty in establishing social contacts and repetitive behaviors are more common symptoms in all stages of the disease.
In general, an autistic person may have:
- Aggressive behavior.
- Lack of eye contact with other people.
- Repetition of words (without meaning).
- Involuntary imitation of movements.
- Learning difficulty.
- Difficulty dealing with change (plans, house, schedule, school, etc.).
- Delay in speech ability.
- Expression of extreme emotions (on occasions when they should not happen).
- speech loss.
- Lack of attention.
- Intense interest in specific things.
- Lack of empathy.
- Habit of walking on tiptoe.
- Tics and nervous manias.
Symptoms can vary according to the level of autism, that is, it is not necessary for a person to have all the symptoms to be considered autistic.
Degrees of autism
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), there are no subtypes of autism, but different levels or degrees of the disorder.
These grades are defined according to the autistic person’s abilities and capabilities.
Also called mild autism and level 1 autism, it is considered a subtle type of autism, diagnosed from observing some details about the individual’s behavior.
See some examples.
- Makes little eye contact with other people.
- No further dialogues.
- Does not know how to communicate by gestures.
- Has difficulty accepting rules right away.
- It’s antisocial.
- It does not usually respond when called by name, among other characteristics.
In mild autism, the person does not have motor or language difficulties, as in some more severe degrees of this disorder.
Also called moderate autism and level 2 autism, moderate autism has communication disorders and language impairment as its main symptoms.
Moderate autism is a middle ground where the autistic is not as independent as in mild autism, but does not need as much support as in severe autism.
The level two autistic person has some behavioral inflexibility and little initiative for social interaction.
Also called severe autism or level 3 autism, severe autism usually has non-verbalization and marked dependence as its main symptoms.
Non-verbal communication is also greatly impaired.
The autistic presents a great level of stress and great difficulty in dealing with routine changes.
In addition, level 3 autistic people often exhibit repetitive behaviors.
Treatments for autism
Autism has no cure. The child with autism will become an adult with autism.
However, there are several treatments that help to minimize the symptoms of people who have this disorder.
A child with autism must be accompanied by a speech therapist who will help them to develop their verbal and non-verbal language.
Occupational or behavioral therapy is also important to help the autistic person develop a better response to sensory stimuli.
There is no medication for autism or a general treatment, as different techniques are applied according to the severity of the disease.
The constant psychological monitoring done by qualified professionals is essential for the application of any type of therapy.
In 2017, a law was enacted in Brazil that institutes the inclusion of the symbol referring to autism on the priority service boards of private and public establishments.
The law was published in the Official Gazette in May 2017 and establishments that fail to comply are subject to fines and sanctions.
Priority in care was already a right of autistic people. The insertion of the symbol came as a form of awareness.
List of Acronyms Related to Autism