Autism: what it is and what the symptoms are

Let’s talk about autism: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a relatively heterogeneous set of developmental disorders, characterised by impaired communication skills and difficulties in social interaction

What is autism

Children with autism have difficulty correctly processing information from the outside world.

For this reason, they may have learning difficulties that impair their emotional and intellectual development.

Autism falls under the classification of ‘pervasive developmental disorders’; it is not classified as a disease, but is a syndrome, i.e. a set of disorders that causes emotional isolation and an inability to relate to others.

Autism is a childhood neuropsychological disorder that can lead to severe problems in the ability to communicate, to relate to people and to adapt to the environment.

Children with autism also often have altered sensory perception and language difficulties.

However, autism presents itself differently from person to person and can be very difficult to diagnose correctly.


Incidence of Autism

According to data from the National Observatory for Monitoring Autism Spectrum Disorders, in Italy 1 in 77 children (aged 7-9 years) has an autism spectrum disorder with a higher prevalence in males: males are affected 4.4 times more than females.

Signs and symptoms of autism: how does it manifest itself?

Autistic syndrome is characterised by interactive and communication difficulties.

Typical signs of autistic syndrome are

  • laterality of gaze: the child has difficulty meeting and sustaining the gaze of the speaker;
  • repetitive and a-finalistic limb movements: movements with no apparent purpose;
  • repetitiveness in performing certain activities.

Problems already appear in early childhood, i.e. around the 2nd-3rd year of life, often some parents report noticing abnormalities as early as the first year of life.

Early care of the subject is essential.

Innovative treatments are available that can help.

Studies carried out to date have revealed some early signs of the disorder, on the basis of which it is now possible to formulate a diagnostic suspicion and assume the initiation of therapeutic interventions.

Early diagnosis and timely rehabilitation intervention, even before the disorder expresses itself in its fullness, can significantly reduce the interference in children’s development by limiting the expression of symptoms.

Intellectual deficit is not in itself a sign of autism, as children with autism spectrum disorders can also have above-normal intelligence.

The causes: what causes autism?

The causes of autistic disorder are still largely unknown.

Studies show that the disorder occurs in conjunction with a number of neurobiological and environmental factors.

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