What are the Characteristics of Autism?

What are the Characteristics of Autism

People on the autism spectrum (ASD) have the same distinctive qualities as anybody else, but the community also shares certain universal traits. These traits appear in a wide range of forms and manifestations, and they change from individual to individual as well as over a period of time.

Understanding the specifics of these characteristics helps us better comprehend the disorder and how individuals affected by Autism are different from those who are not affected. Let’s explore what are the characteristics of Autism.

What Is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term for neurological characteristics. A neurological condition impacts a person’s ability to communicate and engage socially. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1 in every 36 American children is on the autistic spectrum.

Although Autism doesn’t qualify as a disease, it may significantly alter a person’s quality of life. The range of its effects is extensive. Some individuals may need assistance for the rest of their lives, while others may be able to function well without it.

The symptoms of the condition can be noticeable even at a young age in certain circumstances. In others, the symptoms may become more apparent with age.

Causes of Autism

The disorder is generally diagnosed in early childhood and has a lifelong impact on the affected individuals. The exact causes of Autism are still not entirely understood. However, research has identified several factors that may contribute to the development of Autism.

Genetics

One of the widely recognized factors contributing to Autism Spectrum Disorder is genetics. Various studies suggest that genetic factors play a significant role in the risk of developing the disorder. Researchers have identified several genes, including SHANK3, CHD8, and NLGN3/4, that are associated with Autism.

The mutations in these genes disrupt the normal functioning of the neuron cells, leading to impairments in communication, social interaction, and behavior.

Prenatal Conditions

Another possible cause of Autism is prenatal conditions. Studies suggest that exposure to environmental factors during pregnancy, such as viral infections, toxins, or medications, may increase the risk of developing Autism.

Maternal conditions during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, have been linked to an increased risk of Autism in offspring. Moreover, the intake of certain drugs, such as valproic acid, during pregnancy has also been associated with an increased risk of Autism.

Neurological Differences

Neurological differences are another potential cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Several studies have reported differences in brain structure and connectivity in individuals with Autism. The amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum are three brain regions whose abnormality has been observed in individuals with Autism.

These differences may affect how individuals with Autism process sensory information and social cues, leading to communication and social interaction difficulties.

Environmental Factors

There is limited evidence that certain environmental factors may contribute to the development of Autism. For example, some reports suggest that exposure to pollutants, such as metals, insecticides, or phthalates, during early childhood may increase the risk of Autism.

However, research in this area is still limited, and further studies are needed to investigate the association between environmental factors and Autism.

Some other risk factors might include:

  • Premature interruption of brain development
  • Premature delivery
  • More in Men
  • Autistic twins

What Are The Characteristics Of Autism?

Following are some of the characteristics of Autistic people.

Abnormal Responses to Sensory Signals

It’s when your kid has an unfavorable reaction to anything in their surroundings, whether it’s the way things appear, smell, taste, or even touch. Several factors might contribute to this, including the brain’s inability to comprehend additional information.

For instance, a young kid may have increased sensitivity to noise, a condition known as hypersensitivity.

When combined with other indicators, it may serve as a vital precursor to a diagnosis of Autism. However, it is crucial not to criticize your child for having such a reaction to stimuli since this might unintentionally reinforce the behavior in question and lead to it occurring more often in the future.

The best way to assist your kid in adapting to hypersensitivity is to take cautious steps via treatment and instruction.

Difficulties in Communication

The symptoms and characteristics of Autism in adults vary from one person to another. For example, a significant percentage (30%) of children with Autism are nonverbal or barely expressive. However, others may follow thoroughly typical speech development processes.

The development of language, expressiveness, and nuance may all be affected in an autistic child, who may have problems memorizing words or verbalizing their thoughts and feelings until later. Another sign might be a person who constantly repeats phrases, talks to oneself, or attempts to make up their own language.

The complexity of human communication makes it hard to forecast future behavior from existing patterns. However, if the difficulties remain despite the addition of new signals, it seems necessary to investigate how speech-language therapy or another kind of therapy might aid your child’s communication.

Despite delays in language acquisition, a lot of kids with Autism eventually learn to speak successfully. But, most significantly, if a child’s language abilities and early communication challenges can be effectively treated, that child’s quality of life will undoubtedly enhance.

Socializing Difficulty 

Hesitation in socializing is often seen among the characteristics of autistic child at an early age. However, it may take some time for parents or professionals to recognize these challenges as signs of a kid on the autism spectrum, yet, due to the broad spectrum of developmental milestones.

Problems with interpersonal interaction can show up in a variety of ways, such as difficulties in mutual dialogue, understanding social indicators, or forming meaningful connections with others.

A child may have trouble establishing relationships if they display behaviors like refusing to respond to questions, avoiding eye contact, or both.

After seeing them in a kid, it’s essential to have them assessed by a qualified professional and, if autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is confirmed, to start learning strategies to cope as a family.

Obsessive Behavior

A person with Autism may also tend to get obsessed with certain things, which is one possible manifestation of Autism Savant syndrome. Savant characteristics may exist in 10–30% of those with Autism. But in reality, it most often shows itself as obsessive acts, thoughts, or feelings.

It’s common for kids to find relief in a familiar thing like a stuffed animal, an intriguing subject they learned about in class, or a routine hobby.

Autistic people need regularity, and changes to that pattern may upset them. Hence, autistic children often experience these characteristics of autism in the classroom.

Having your child checked for Autism should be on your mind if they display obsessive isolated, recurrent behaviors. However, you should consult an expert about possible results and diagnosis before engaging your kid in an intervention program since identical behaviors may result from other disorders that have not yet been identified.

Other uncommon characteristics of autism in toddlers, children, and adults might include the following:

  • Lack of focus: Another indicator that may be hard to distinguish from typical childhood development or perhaps other problems, but which still should be identified in advance of an autism evaluation.
  • Disinterest in one’s surroundings: A child with autism spectrum disorder may need extra supervision in potentially dangerous settings.
  • Abnormal patterns of sleeping and eating: Every child will be picky about what they eat and can have trouble sleeping at night. But kids who have been diagnosed with Autism tend to do this more frequently compared to their peers. So keep track of any signs that your child’s eating or sleeping habits are out of the ordinary, and see a doctor if necessary.
  • Aggression or impulsivity: Some violence in young children is typical, but unjustified actions should raise red flags.

Bottom Line

An in-depth understanding of the various characteristics associated with autism spectrum disorder can be highly beneficial in ensuring an early and accurate diagnosis for your child. In addition, working collaboratively with family members, teachers, and specialists is essential to develop a comprehensive plan for managing the child’s behavioral tendencies. This can include Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and Occupational Therapy (OT), which can help improve a child’s social and communication skills, sensory processing, and self-regulation strategies.