Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that is congenital or presents in the first years of life. Autism is thought to be caused by certain nervous system problems that affect the structure or functioning of the brain. However, there are deficiencies in the data reporting certainty about this. In the light of available information, autism spectrum disorder is genetically based. However, it has not been found out which gene or genes are caused by what kind of damage. In addition to these, there are opinions and information that environmental factors can cause autism. In addition to this information, another important piece of information that should be known and not forgotten is that autism has nothing to do with the way families raise children, their socio-economic status and cultural differences.
Early Symptoms of Autism:
It is very difficult to evaluate the symptoms that appear before the age of 1 year. The first symptoms to appear are sensory symptoms. Our expectation about mood development from babies after 1 year; they begin to make sense of emotions and show interest in their environment. For example, smiling at a smiling face. Babies with autism fail to read and reflect these emotions.
Another early sign of age is that he does not respond to his name when called. For example, when a child playing with his toy is called by his name, children with normal development look for where the sound comes from by turning their head, while children with autism are not aware of this and do not look for the sound. However, they may react to some sounds from time to time as they are in the early stages. This is exactly the point of error for parents. Children with autism seem to hear some sounds and not others. The most common statement we hear from families who do not know about this subject is “He looks if he wants to, but does not look if he does not want to.” It is possible.
In addition, children with autism also have little or no “eye contact”. Even if it is gained through these studies, the ability to “look at the outside world with meaning” cannot be gained.
Another early sign of age is the concept of “joint attention”. Joint attention means the attention of the child and adult to a common point. Children try to share their interest by first looking at something that interests them, then adults. As of the 8th month, joint attention begins with the child looking at the adult and smiling at his calling, smiling, and sounds. In the 12th month, children look towards an object that their mother shows by saying “look” and after seeing it, they turn their gaze back to their mother. Children with autism do not follow the cue, even if they look at the cue, they cannot look back and show emotion. In normally developing children, pointing is aimed at wanting an object first, accompanied by vocalization and eye contact. After pointing, the children look at the mother and back at the object. Pointing is normally done with the index finger. Children with autism don’t point, even if they do, they either don’t use their index fingers properly (they often use their palms instead), or they don’t look back. 14-16. In addition to wanting something, children who develop normally in months begin to point to attract other people’s attention. Pointing to show interest is followed by mutual gestures, facial expressions, voices, and establishing a relationship with a smile.
Another symptom is “social referencing”. Social reference; In children with normal development, when they enter a new environment, the child can organize his own emotions and reactions in line with the observation of their mothers’ attitudes, emotions and behaviors. However, this is not possible in children with autism. In fact, many autistic children do not react to their parents leaving the room with someone they did not know before, and act as if they did not notice them when they return.
Another symptom is that children with autism lack the ability to play toys for their intended purpose. While their peers can create thematic games using their toys, children with autism focus on a particular part of these toys and only deal with that part. Therefore, they cannot play toys and play games. Even if his peers set up a game and invite him, they do not want to play, they do not show interest in the game of their peers. In addition, although they try to play, they cannot make sense of the rules of the game and adapt.
Other observed symptoms are; late speech, inability to speak meaningfully (speech without social purpose), repetition of other people’s speech (echolalia), articulation problem (not being able to pronounce some sounds and therefore words exactly) or not speaking at all.
Besides language development; swaying and fluttering (especially clapping their hands), keeping their eyes fixed on something, turning some objects or staring at things they see rotating, and giving larger reactions than normal to changes in their daily life. In addition, although children with autism may acquire some of these symptoms in infancy, they generally lose these acquired skills in later years.
With early diagnosis and a correct education method, some of the children with autism who receive intensive education can control the symptoms of autism, achieve development, make great progress, and even some children with autism may not be different from their friends when they reach the age of puberty.