Autism Related Conditions

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition characterized by developmental problems, learning difficulties, and social interaction issues.

Image Credit: Africa Studio
Image Credit: Africa Studio

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects brain development. It affects how a person perceives and socializes with others, leading to problems with communication and social interaction.

Autism can be diagnosed at any age, but often, the signs and symptoms appear within the first two years of infancy. The term “spectrum” pertains to a broad range of symptoms, and level of functional disability that can occur in people who have ASD. In some cases, children and adults with ASD can  adequately manage their daily life,  while others may require additional support.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Some children with ASD may show signs of the condition in early infancy, especially when their developmental milestones are compared against children of the same age. For instance, children with ASD may be unresponsive when their name is called or may not engage in expected levels of eye contact for their age. Some children may show indifference even to their primary caregivers.

In some cases, children may develop normally  until their second birthday, after which they may begin to withdraw and not engage socially with others. Further signs and symptoms of ASD include social impairment, communication difficulties, and speech problems. Also, children with ASD may manifest repetitive and characteristic behaviors like rocking from side to side, twirling or flapping their arms.

Autism Related Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder is often diagnosed alongside other conditions.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurological disorder that affects children and adults. It’s described as a developmental impairment, causing symptoms such as inattention or the inability to focus, hyperactivity or excessive movements not suitable to the setting, and impulsivity or making hasty acts that happen at the moment without thought.

About 6.1 million (9.4%) of children between the ages of 2 and 17 years old were diagnosed with ADHD in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.

Hearing Impairment

Children with autism may have an inner ear deficiency, leading to hearing impairment. Some people may also have sensory processing problems. Also, some of the indicators of hearing impairment are similar to those of autism, leading to delays in diagnosis.

Down Syndrome

Also known as Trisomy 21, Down syndrome is a genetic condition linked to delays in physical growth, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features.

An increasing number of patients with Down syndrome manifest symptoms of autism. The diagnosis of autism is based on the symptoms of communication impairments, repetitive behaviors, and social impairments. Children with Down syndrome who also have autism often develop a different pattern of symptoms compared to those with a single diagnosis of autism.

Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a condition that mainly affects learning, particularly literacy and language-related skills. Those with dyslexia experience issues reading fluently and accurately, as well as problems spelling and writing. Autism and dyslexia are both related in terms of how the brain processes, stores and retrieves information, because of this, it is not uncommon for those with autism to also receive a diagnosis of dyslexia.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder. It’s a condition wherein a person has the tendency to experience seizures. People with autism are at a greater risk of having epilepsy, at about 20 to 40 percent. Research suggests this comorbidity occurs due to some of the development changes seen in autism contributing to the onset of seizures. As a result of this development, changes are often observed in the brain neurons or brain nerve cells. As neurons are responsible for processing and transmitting information and signals around the body, any disturbances in their activity can cause seizures to occur.

Fragile X Syndrome

Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is a genetic condition that leads to intellectual disability, developmental problems, cognitive impairment, and learning difficulties. Children with the condition may also have physical characteristics. Generally, males are more severely affected than females. People with FXS who also have autism may have a lower IQ than those with FXS but without autism.

Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia is a condition which affects an individual’s ability to plan their time and coordinate their physical movement. Those with this condition may struggle  to maintain their posture and balance. The cause of dyspraxia can be traced to how the brain processes information, leading to the messages not being transmitted properly. There has been a link in co-morbidity between dyspraxia and ASD.

Autism like many other psychological disorders is related to other conditions, which can negatively impact the lives of those living with the condition.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2018

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She’s currently taking up her Master’s Degree from the University of the Philippines Open University, specializing in Maternal and Child Nursing.

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