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Autism is a life-long, incapacitating developmental disability. A variety of forms of autism and related conditions have been identified over the past few decades and, together, these conditions are referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). ASD usually makes its appearance within the first three years of life. Autism can occur alone or coincident with other disorders that affect brain function. ASD is a neurological disorder that inhibits normal brain function. Adults and children with autism have difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction and personal interactive skills, as well as leisure activities. Because autism is a ‘spectrum disorder’, patients display a wide variety of symptoms and each individual may exhibit these symptoms differently. Severe forms of ASD can include symptoms of self-injury, repetitive, unusual, or aggressive behavior. Though autism is second only to mental retardation as a diagnosed developmental disorder, autism is NOT retardation and the treatments for autism are distinctly different from those for mental retardation. The cause of Autism has not yet been discovered, but research indicates a hereditary component that may cause a person to be predisposed to ASD.
Some adult ASD patients, especially those with ‘high-functioning’ autism, or Asperger syndrome, are able to work and hold jobs in the community. Others can work in sheltered workshops with supervision from managers who receive training to work with developmentally disabled employees.
Since public schools only provide services to ASD children until the age of 22, the family of an Autistic child must plan for the future to find suitable residence and work accommodations for their child as they become an adult and face the prospect of living without parental guidance.
What are the symptoms?
Because there are several forms of Autism, and because nearly every Autistic patient exhibits various symptoms with varying levels of severity, it is difficult to neatly define the symptoms of this disorder.
The autistic child is typically diagnosed by age three, but as early as 12-36 months, they may begin to exhibit unusual behaviors and reactions to people and to their environment.
Possible Signs of ASD
Does not point, babble or make gestures by age 1, does not speak single word by 16 months, does not combine two or more words by age 2, does not respond to name, does not smile, is attached to one specific object, order or lines up objects or toys, poor eye contact,
Here are some of the symptoms that patients may display:
Other Forms of Autistic Spectrum Disorder:
How is it diagnosed and treated?
The earlier the diagnosis is made, the better the proven outcome for most children with ASD. Intense early intervention for at least two preschool years has achieved good results. Doctors look for problems in at least one area of communication, socialization, or behavior.
The child will have a medical evaluation to be sure that the symptoms are not coming from other sources. Screening tools, like the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) are often used in the diagnosis, and a hearing evaluation and lead screening are completed.
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Most everyone can eventually recognize the warning signs of an impending depressive episode related to bipolar disorder. More likely than not, individuals with bipolar disorder try very hard to avoid it.
However, for many individuals with bipolar disorder, it's more difficult to recognize the signs of an impending manic episode. After all, a manic episode of bipolar disorder can be mistaken in some cases - especially in the very early formation -- for the lifting of the corresponding mood swing of the depression.
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