Thesun.co.uk: What is autism spectrum disorder, what are the early signs, causes and symptoms and can you be tested for it during a pregnancy?

AUTISM spectrum disorder is a condition which can affect communication skills and social interaction.

Here’s everything you need to know about traits of those with ASD and the support available.

 Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is three to four times more common in boys than in girls (stock image used)

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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is three to four times more common in boys than in girls (stock image used)
What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an incurable, lifelong developmental condition that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

It affects around one in 100 people in the UK and is three to four times more common in boys than in girls.

Many people with ASD find it hard to understand other people’s feelings and emotions, and they may have difficulty holding conversations.

When they are young, their language development may take longer and they can struggle to use facial expressions, using gestures to communicate instead.

They may also find it hard to connect with other people and to hold eye contact with unfamiliar individuals.

Many children with ASD like to follow a routine, and changes to this can cause distress.

 Autism is an incurable, lifelong developmental condition that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others

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Autism is an incurable, lifelong developmental condition that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others
How is autism spectrum disorder tested during pregnancy?

There are no tests that are used to screen for ASD during pregnancy.

Symptoms are usually present before a child reaches the age of three, although a diagnosis can be made later in life.

To make an accurate assessment, information is usually drawn from GPs, nursery or school staff and speech and occupational therapists.

Physical examinations are often carried out in order to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms.

These health implications may also be triggered by underlying conditions including Down’s syndrome or neurofibromatosis.

What are the symptoms of ASD?

The NHS outlines the signs of symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in school-age children.

Spoken language
preferring to avoid using spoken language
speech that sounds very monotonous or flat
speaking in pre-learned phrases, rather than putting together individual words to form new sentences
seeming to talk “at” people, rather than sharing a two-way conversation
Responding to others
taking people’s speech literally and being unable to understand sarcasm, metaphors or figures of speech
reacting unusually negatively when asked to do something by someone else
Interacting with others
not being aware of other people’s personal space, or being unusually intolerant of people entering their own personal space
little interest in interacting with other people, including children of a similar age, or having few close friends, despite attempts to form friendships
not understanding how people normally interact socially, such as greeting people or wishing them farewell
being unable to adapt the tone and content of their speech to different social situations – for example, speaking very formally at a party and then speaking to total strangers in a familiar way
not enjoying situations and activities that most children of their age enjoy
rarely using gestures or facial expressions when communicating
avoiding eye contact
Behaviour
repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or flicking their fingers
playing in a repetitive and unimaginative way, often preferring to play with objects rather than people
developing a highly specific interest in a particular subject or activity
preferring to have a familiar routine and getting very upset if there are changes to their normal routine
having a strong like or dislike of certain foods based on the texture or colour of the food as much as the taste
unusual sensory interests – for example, children with ASD may sniff toys, objects or people inappropriately
 Currently there are no tests that are used to screen for ASD during pregnancy

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Currently there are no tests that are used to screen for ASD during pregnancy
Is there a cure for autism spectrum disorder?

There isn’t a cure for autism, but there are a number of ways you can support those with it.

Speech and language therapists and educational support staff can help children and parents with day-to-day life.

Depending on the individual, there are a number of treatments that can treat symptoms or conditions associated with ASD, such as ADHD and sleeping problems.

What are the signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder?

One of the major traits of ASD is challenges with social interaction.

This can include language and communicative difficulties in children, including lack of eye contact and a struggle with body language and gestures.

They may show a lack of empathy with other’s emotions and many need routine to feel comfortable.

Babies and small infants with ASD may not use vocal sounds or babbling to communicate.

 Children with ASD may have language and communicative difficulties, including lack of eye contact and a struggle with body language (stock image used)

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Children with ASD may have language and communicative difficulties, including lack of eye contact and a struggle with body language (stock image used)
What causes autism spectrum disorder?

The exact cause is unknown, but can occur as a result of a number of genetic, environmental and unknown factors.

Many scientists think that a child inherits certain genes that make them more susceptible to ASD from their parents.

Other researchers claim these genes are only triggered if they are exposed to certain environmental factors.

Some of the possible causes are thought to be being born prematurely before 35 weeks of pregnancy and being exposed to alcohol in the womb.

Other theories include defects in the sensory nerves being the cause.

In the past, some have thought flu during pregnancy to be a cause, but this has been disproved in one study.

Other studies claim that children born to mums with allergies are more at risk of autism and ADHD.

And scientists in Denmark have found that the later you leave it to have kids, the higher the chance your baby will be diagnosed with this condition.

 Christine McGuinness shared a heartwarming poem about her twins revealing they had autism

Christine McGuinness shared a heartwarming poem about her twins revealing they had autism
When does The A Word Series 2 start on BBC One and what’s it about?

The six-part drama revisits the funny, messy, mixed-up lives of the Hughes and Scott families as they struggle to do their best as parents, carers, lovers.

Now aged seven, Joe, who has autism, has begun to look at the world and finds that he doesn’t fit in.

“Autistic” is a word he has heard but can’t yet understand and “different” is what he feels, and fears might be something bad.

It is up to the whole family to help Joe make sense of who he is and his place in the world.

You can watch it on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, at 9pm on BBC One.

Which celebrities have spoken about autism?

Paddy McGuinness’ wife Christine has revealed that her twins have autism in an emotional Instagram post.

The mum-of-three posted a heartfelt poem on the social media site to celebrate Leo and Penelope’s fourth birthdays.

Melanie Sykes is another celeb parent that has an autistic child, 12-year-old Valentino.

Katie Price regularly documents the struggles of her son Harvey.

Harvey, who was born blind, suffers from a rare genetic condition called Prader-Willi syndrome along with autism.

Daniel Ball shares the moment he helped calm down an autistic boy suffering an episode on a train

‘he’s not a leper!’
Dad’s post after pals fail to invite his autistic son to kids’ parties

MIND MATTERS
Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome – which affects Susan Boyle and Anne Hegerty

VITAMINS HIT AUTISM
Taking multivitamins during pregnancy ‘reduces risk of autism’

SICK KICKS
Laughing childcare workers filmed taunting and tripping up little autistic lad

HEART AND SOLE
Mum’s heartrending thank you to Clarks after ‘brilliant’ staff’s care for 11-year-old autistic daughter

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