What is autism?
Autism spectrum disorder is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child's ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. While it is usually diagnosed around 18 months of age or even before, some children are diagnosed at an older age.
How common is autism?
Autism is a common disorder. One child out of 160 might have autism. It is more frequent in boys than in girls.
What causes autism?
- The exact cause of autism is still unknown.
- Some evidence links autism to problems with the function or structure of the brain.
- What we do know is that heredity, vaccines and food allergies do not cause autism.
How do you recognize autism?
I. Social interaction
The child has difficulty with:
- Using non-verbal behaviors (eye-gazes, facial expressions, body postures and gestures).
- Forming relationships with peers.
- Seeking out others to share enjoyment and interests.
- Sharing emotional and social feelings with others.
The child has difficulty with:
- Developing spoken language (delay in speech); some autistic children develop odd or strange language.
- Starting or maintaining a conversation.
- Playing imaginary games or social imitative play.
The child has:
- Restricted interests and activities.
- Preoccupation with one interest.
- Specific routines or rituals that do not serve any purpose.
- Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements such as hand or finger flapping or twisting, or whole body movements.
How is autism diagnosed?
To diagnose child with autism, the doctor will do the following:
- Ask questions about the period before and after a child was born and questions about the family medical history.
- Do a complete physical and mental examination for a child.
- Possibly order a few tests for child, such as brain MRI.
Can autism be treated?
- There is no medication that cures autism. There are medications that can help reduce the symptoms such as aggressive behavior, mood swings, hyperactivity, inattention, anxiety, repetitive behavior and sleep Problems.
- In most patients, improvement or a decrease in symptoms can be expected with therapy.
- The best way is to have a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan that corresponds to the child's needs and to the parents ability to engage and be active partners.
- The goal of the plan is to help the child adapt to his environment and to have a dignified life. The plan includes family members, early nursery, school, and a team of specialists.
- The team of specialists includes a pediatric neurologist or psychiatrist, a psychologist, applied behavior analysis therapist and speech, occupational and psychomotor therapists. This team helps the child educationally, behaviorally, cognitively, socially and emotionally.
Tips for parents:
- Learn more about autism. Do not listen to common myths or misconceptions about the disease.
- Try to know more about the child's symptoms, his /her strengths and weaknesses.
- Be involved with child's teachers and team of specialists in developing the treatment plan.
- Be consistent with the child.
- Let the child follow a daily schedule (such as when to eat, when to go to therapy, when to sleep, etc).
- Praise child for his/her good behavior.
Does my Insurance Policy cover autism?
Yes. According to CCHI unified Policy terms and conditions, health insurance policies in Saudi Arabia cover autism.Please Click Here to access the Unified CCHI Policy Wordings.
References:"autism spectrum disorders" Rules. N.p., n.d. Web. Aug. 2016.
"Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Children and Adolescents." Autism Spectrum Disorders. N.p., 30 May 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
"Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Children and Adolescents." Diseases and Conditions Autism Spectrum Disorder. N.p., 3 June 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Autism in children and adolescents." Autism Spectrum Disorders. N.p., Apr. 2017. Web. Apr. 2017.