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Autism spectrum disorder: causes, symptoms, and treatments


When we talk about autism spectrum disorder, we are talking about a complex developmental disorder, generally associated with some cognitive deficit. This disorder affects the normal development of the brain generating an abnormality in the social and communication skills of the individual and is characterized by challenges in social interaction, isolation and repetitive behaviors.

Autism spectrum disorder usually begins to develop and differentiate before the age of 3. Generally, those who suffer from this disorder have repetitive behavior patterns and are unable to form emotional bonds with others.

Causes of autism spectrum disorder

According to scientific research, there is no single cause that works as a trigger for this disorder. A highly close link has been found between abnormal genes and autism, but also the incidence of other bio-psycho-social factors that interact in complex ways.

A single gene has not yet been identified as the sole responsible, therefore within the autistic disorder multiple genes are involved that interact with each other.

Other research affirms that this disorder may have been transmitted by the mother during pregnancy, if she was exposed to malicious viruses or malicious chemicals.

Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder

  • Sensory disturbances
  • Verbal communication problems 
  • Poor social skills
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Preference for being alone or away
  • Resistance to physical contact
  • Failure to establish friendships with children of the same age
  • Exaggerated expression of emotions
  • Insistence on maintaining an unusual routine
  • Significant problems developing non-verbal communication skills
  • Unusual focus on parts. They tend to focus on toy parts, like the wheels on a car, rather than on the toy itself.
  • Decrease in the level of development progress
  • Difficulty continuing a conversation
  • Episodes of anger and anxiety
  • Stereotypical behaviors, eg, body rocking or limb movement
  • Low tolerance for  frustration
  • Lack of empathy

Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder

It is not easy to make a diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder, as there is not yet a laboratory test to diagnose it, therefore, doctors make their diagnosis based on the symptoms that the patient presents and his behavior.

As with most psychological disorders, specialists tend to follow certain established guidelines before diagnosing. The evaluation is divided into different stages: 

  1. First, the specialist will talk with the patient’s parents, who will tell him their concerns and inform him about the symptoms that the child presents.
  2. Then a consultation with the child will be scheduled, where the specialist will evaluate his behavior.
  3. Next, the patient’s medical history will be evaluated and they will be asked to perform some laboratory tests to rule out that the symptoms are underlying any other pathology.
  4. If clinical studies show that there is no physical pathology causing the symptoms, the doctor will refer the patient to a mental health specialist, psychiatrist or psychologist.
  5. The psychologist or psychiatrist in charge will first interview the child’s parents, talk to them about their child’s behavior, ask them when the associated symptoms started, and ask them to complete a child’s behavior checklist.
  6. Then he will interview the patient and based on his symptoms and behavior, he will look for the related disorders according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, using  psychometric tests  ,  free drawing technique ,  world sheet , games and other  evaluations especially designed to evaluate children with psychological disorders.
  7. Multidisciplinary evaluations are also sometimes carried out , carried out by a team of psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, speech therapists and other professionals who have the necessary tools to detect this disorder.

Treatment for autism spectrum disorder

Before, doctors and psychologists believed that autism was nothing more than an isolated emotional disorder associated with antisocial disorder, but today, thanks to scientific advances, it has been possible to show that autism is a problem in the way the brain works , not in the way people are educated. Since autism arises from brain abnormalities, it is important to carry out treatment early, because the earlier it is detected, the greater the success of the treatment.

For the treatment, the professionals involved in the case may prescribe some medications – such as inhibitors or antipsychotics – that help reduce symptoms and control the patient’s behaviors in a healthy way.

You may also be interested in:   Example of a psychological interview. Rossana case. Part iii

Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be one of the most effective psychotherapies ,  focusing on both thoughts, behaviors, and social skills training. In addition, it has been shown that together with medication it is an effective treatment to  control symptoms of anxiety and anger, especially in children.  

Other treatment therapies emphasize “operant conditioning,” a form of teaching that uses rewards to encourage good behavior in children and punishments to discourage bad behavior. According to studies, this approach can help improve children’s communication and social interaction, as well as help reduce problem behaviors such as aggression or self-punishment.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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