Autism or Autism spectrum disorder as it is called, is a condition that is characterized by challenges such as compulsive behaviour, speaking disability, lack of social skills etc.,.and in some children it may also manifest through severe sensory issues. The notable autistic symptoms that can be visualized during infancy are inability to talk, difficulties to make an eye contact, play and interact with others. Most parents assume, it would take 5 years after birth to diagnose and treat autism. This assumption is absolutely untrue. Let us understand how a parent can identify autism early and treat it.
It is a must for every parent to keep a close track of their child’s developmental milestones. Every child is unique and reaches its growth milestones on a varying time trend. However, it is very crucial for a parent to monitor the lingual, cognitive and social developments in their infants for the initial 2 years.
Deviations in these growth parameters when followed closely can help in early diagnosis and treatment . Treatments of these conditions such as autism, ADHD, OCD, speech delay etc will also be more profound offering better outcomes, when begun early.
The term spectrum indicates that the child could possess a variety of challenges and even strengths that may differ from child to child. The most obvious signs autism are represented between 1 to 2 years’ of age, in most cases it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months of the baby. Autism, therefore is not a single condition.
The condition can be caused by many different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.The prenatal factors that could contribute to autism are intake of antidepressants or seizure drugs during pregnancy. Certain nutrient deficiencies such low folic acid intake could also be a culprit. Other factors that contribute to autism are maternal infections, exposure to chemicals and metals, pesticides during pregnancy. Genetic vulnerability clubbed with exposure to environmental hazards such as toxicity and micro-organisms can also be a cause. Recent researchers note that gut health during foetal development with gross imbalance between good bacteria and bad can also be an important risk factor.
As soon as a parent notices a milestone delay, they must trust their instincts and take action. The general wait and watch approach may not apply well in case of autism. It is better to consult the doctor and either rule out or confirm the diagnosis.If the reasons behind the cause are addressed early and efficiently, there is a higher possibility of the brain to heal well due to greater plasticity, when young.
As a parent these are the things to look for in an infant:
- Baby’s communication skills
- How baby relates to the world around
- Paying attention to tantrums and understanding capability
- Irritability and response to external stimuli such as water, wind, clothes, toys etc
- Babbling, inappropriate eye contact and strange gestures
All the above signs can be important cues that indicate signs of autism. If there are any abnormalities, it is best to contact the doctor and get expert advice. Apart from these, any interference in the normal milestones listed below are also an alarm.
Reach for medical help, if there is a delay in the following milestones:
6 months- smile and expressions of joy
9 months- chuckling sounds, sharing sounds
12 months- responding to name
12 months- babbling, pointing, waving, reaching
16 months- meaningful words
24 months- forming small sentences, imitating or repeating
Numerous studies show that autism can be prevented if parents address the prenatal factors with utmost care. Intake of sufficient vitamins as prescribed, staying away from risk factors such as environmental factors, food preservatives, infections can also help.
However, even after diligently adhering to all these regime during pregnancy, if the baby is still showing signs of autism, it can be diagnosed easily within 2 years of age, if the parent pays attention to the child’s symptoms. With the advancement in medical science there are credible first line therapies using the baby’s own umbilical cord stem cells for autism.
Now with the option of community stem cell banking, parents can secure the stem cells of their baby exclusively for their child for treatment purpose, By being part of the community the child and the entire family also receives the protection of stem cells against all others conditions treatable by stem cells. So, an eye for detail into your child’s milestone will enable you to get the right treatment for your child early.