Disease Spotlight: Autism

Disease Spotlight: Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

The exact cause of ASD is unknown. But several complex genetic and environmental factors might be involved.

In the past, some people believed the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine caused ASD, but this has been investigated extensively and researchers have found no evidence of a link between MMR and ASD.

In children with ASD, the symptoms are present before three years of age, although a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the age of three.

Some people with ASD had features of the condition as a child, but enter adulthood without ever being diagnosed.
Getting a diagnosis of autism can be a really positive step, in fact it can help to understand why they find certain things difficult, and also why they are especially good at some things.

Know the signs

– Delayed speech development
– Frequent repetition of set words and phrases
– Not responding to their name being called, despite having normal hearing
– Rejecting cuddles initiated by a parent or carer
– Not being aware of other people’s personal space, or being unusually intolerant of people entering their own personal space
– Not enjoying situations that most children of their age like, such as birthday parties
– Having repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or flicking their fingers
– Preferring to have a familiar routine and getting very upset if there are changes to this routine

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