What is Autism? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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What is Autism? Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism affects an estimated one in 59 children in the United States today. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

What is Autism? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Several factors may influence the development of autism and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorder, seizures or sleep disorder, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.

Autism’s most obvious signs tend to appear between two to three years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Shifa International Hospital (SIH) Autism Specialist Haleema Sadia shared this information with the participants of an awareness seminar on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day organised by Shifa International Hospital.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board Chairman Dr Assad Hafeez said we should all play our part in changing attitudes toward people with autism and in recognising their rights as citizens, who, like everyone else, are entitled to claim those rights and make decisions for their lives in accordance with their own will and preferences.

He added we should also honour and respect each individual living with autism. We should acknowledge efforts of parents, teachers, and caregivers, who provide support to those living on the autism spectrum.

As parents we should realise that having autism makes a child different from their peers in areas of learning, communication, speech, emotions, and even in various health issues. Therefore, we should provide them a comfortable environment to move forward and enhance learning, he stated.

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