Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neural
development disorder that begins in the first few years of life. It’s often not
diagnosed before the age of three. ASD impairs the communication and social
skills to varying degrees. The effects depend upon where a person’s autism
falls in the spectrum of severity. It can range from mild (Asperger syndrome)
to severe. Those in the mild ranges are usually fully functional in their daily
lives and in society. Those in the more severe range may require care and
support for their entire lives.
An ASD can be challenging to deal
with on its own. This is true for both for the individual and for the
caretakers. ASD is often accompanied by other disorders and problems. There are
many layers to ASD, ranging from being a behavioral disorder to a genetic
disorder to a multiple organ disorder.
There are often additional
complications and disorders that add to the challenges of treatment, caretaking,
and therapy for ASD. A person can also have companion conditions. Some of the
disorders and other problems that tend to accompany ASD are described below.
Someone with an ASD can be very
sensitive to sensory input. It can be severe enough that common sensations can
cause significant emotional discomfort. Alternatively, they may not respond at
all to some extreme sensations, such as heat, cold, or pain.
Seizures are a very common component
of ASD. They often begin in young autistic children or autistic teenagers.
Mental Health Issues
According to the National
Autistic Society, people with ASD are prone to depression, anxiety, impulsive
behavior, and mood swings.
This rare disorder causes benign
tumors to grow in the organs, including the brain. The link between tuberous
sclerosis and ASD is unclear. However, ASD rates are much
higher among children with tuberous sclerosis than those without the
Autistic children often have at least
some level of mental impairment. This can include fragile X syndrome, which is
a defect on a section of the X chromosome. This is a very common cause of
mental impairment, particularly among boys.
Other problems that can accompany ASD
are aggression, odd sleeping and eating habits, and digestive issues.
In order to provide proper care for
children and adults with ASD, it’s important for the caregivers to also take
care of themselves. Many caregivers are overly stressed and sleep-deprived.
This can lead to mistakes in care. Taking care of your own health with good
nutrition, hydration, sleep, and exercise is just as important for you as it is
for the person you are caring for.
Caregiver Alliance notes, asking for help and accepting help is also an important
part of caregiving. Talk to doctors if you need assistance, or just a break,
With early and proper treatment,
many people with ASD grow up to lead independent and productive lives. Early
intervention programs, medications to help manage symptoms and complications,
and a supportive environment can be combined to create a promising future for
patients with ASD.