Autism - Symptoms

The severity of autism varies among individuals. Some children have severe symptoms. They may act aggressively against other people and even try to harm themselves. Other children have mild symptoms. They may have problems getting along with others and have mild learning disorders.

Medications that treat depression and that can also be used to treat autism.
Asperger syndrome:
A type of autism that involves no problems with language.
An inflammation of the brain caused by a viral infection.
Fragile X syndrome:
A genetic condition involving the X chromosome that results in mental, physical, and sensory problems.
Opiate blockers:
Drugs that interfere with the action of natural opiates, substances that cause sleepiness and numbness.
Phenylketonuria (PKU):
A genetic disorder in which a person's body is unable to break down the amino acid phenylalanine, causing damage to the brain.
A class of drugs that tends to arouse the body but that seem to calm down children with autism.
Drugs that help a person to calm down.

The most common symptom of autism is a serious inability to relate to other people. Infants with the disorder refuse to cuddle and avoid eye contact. They do not seem to want or need physical contact or affection. They become stiff or totally relaxed when held and begin to cry when picked up. Autistic babies form no attachment to their parents and are frightened by strangers. They do not learn typical childhood games, such as peek-a-boo.

Language Problems

Autistic children may not speak at all. If they do, it is often in single words. They may repeat words or phrases over and over again. Pronouns may get reversed, as in "You go sleep" instead of "I want to go to sleep."

Restricted Interests and Activity

Autistic children usually do not play normally. They do not act out adult roles, such as pretending to be a doctor or parent. Nor do they use their imaginations to create fantasy worlds. Instead, they repeat simple behaviors of the people around them.

These behaviors may become complex and ritualistic. That is, they are repeated over and over again in a very precise way. Autistic children are also prone to strange behavior patterns such as screaming fits, rocking back and forth, arm flapping, and finger twiddling. Austic children may play with their own saliva, feces, or urine. They may be self-destructive, biting their own hands, gouging at their eyes, pulling their hair, or banging their heads.

Sensory Problems

The world of sight and sound poses a real problem to many autistic children. They may ignore objects or become obsessed by them. Or they may watch those objects very carefully or act as if they are not even there. Sounds can also be a problem. Autistic children may react to sounds by banging their heads or flapping their fingers.

Some adults who have overcome autism have written books about their childhood experiences. They report that sounds were often terribly painful to them. They were forced to withdraw into their own world to avoid dealing with the sounds of the real world.

Intellectual Problems

Most autistic children appear to be somewhat mentally challenged. They may giggle or cry for no reason. They may be very frightened of harmless objects, but have no fear of real danger.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

The Content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of Content found on the Website.