27 Nov 2022


Autism: Symptoms and Treatments

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 1170

Pages: 4

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Autism is a disorder caused by chromosomal disruption of the neurodevelopment process in the brain. The dysfunction negatively affects an individual’s ability to communicate both verbally and non-verbally. Additionally, autistic individuals have the tendency of engaging in repetitive behaviors and the inability to interpret emotions. Without proper medication or behavioral interventions, autistic individuals suffer depression and loneliness into adulthood. Some, however, have high mental development potentials and, therefore, respond positively to treatment interventions. 

Autism that causes intellectual disability, however, leads to aggressive and maladaptive portrayal of behaviors. Parents can develop and reduce the autistic symptoms of their children if detected at a young age. Autistic signs develop from an early age where parents can notice delay in the developmental milestones such as speech development and delayed response to external stimuli. 

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Causes of autism 

Different categories of autism have diverse genetic, neural and cognitive causal factors. In all the different manifestations, however, there exist a strong genetic basis because most patients’ reports show the existence of the disorder in a member of the family. In cases where a specialist cannot trace the genetic composition that links the causal factors to the disorder, a chromosome test changes the direction of the results. Autism can, therefore, be caused by the spontaneity of the structural variation that results in chromosome abnormality due to critical brain syndromes. 

The massive mutation of chromosomes and synaptic dysfunction in cell adhesion causes the early development of autism that manifests in infants.This is due to the duplication, the deletion and the inversion of chromosomes in the genome of individuals who later develop the disorder (DeRubeis et al., 2014) . The mutation affects the ability to pay attention, show emotion, develop intimacy and communicate effectively with others in a social setting. 

External factors include the exposure of the pregnant mother to particulates and heavy metals in the environment. Moreover, adverse exposure to polluted chemicals causes the disruption of the fetus’ brain development. Polluted air catalyzes the excessive connectivity of the neurons in key brain regions thereby disrupting the neural migration process in early gestation period. 

Autism coexists with epilepsy, which explains the interruption of synaptic development caused by poor regulated production of synaptic proteins in the brain. Insufficient protein causes the disruption of the connection process of nerve cells with their respective synapses to organize and connect information. Lack of connection leads to the distorted perception of words and figures. 

Additionally, another causal factor for autism is the inflammation of the central and peripheral immune system that inhibits successful neurodevelopment. Mothers with weak immune systems have high chances of giving birth to autistic children. The child might be healthy during gestation but develop complications based on the exposure to infections or environmental toxicants that disrupt brain development. Environmental factors include the impairment of the regulation in the functioning of the growth factor receptors which, in conclusion, increases the chance to develop autism. 

Symptoms of autism 

Autism affects the process of information dissemination from the brain to the body. A parent or a care giver can identify the symptoms from the age of six months when the first indicators of social attachment are expected to show, to two to three years when typical children develop speech. Parents get worried when their children show slowness in the achievement of the developmental milestones. 

As the child grows older, he or she shows symptoms such as the impairment in social interaction, restrictive interests, repetitive behavioral traits and the lack of intuitive tendencies. Moreover, the child does not react to social norms such as responding to their name. Children who have autism show less attachment to their caregivers, depression and loneliness (Anderson et al., 2014). 

Other symptoms include preference non-verbal mode communication, avoiding interpersonal communication and spending time alone. Autistic people fail to recognize familiar faces and emotions. There is a difference, however, with the rate of mental development where those with intellectual disability react with frequent aggressive and violent tantrums in social situations. Those with a good mental condition improve with age and some go to remission before they become adults. Most people with autism, however, fail to comprehend complex tasks that involve figurative language and inference to familiar environments. 

The diagnostic criteria for autism from the DSM 5 

The diagnosis criterion for autism under the DSM 5 categorization is based on the behavioral characteristics but not the mechanism. The characterization is under the persistence of personal deficits when interacting with other people and the failure to recognize social cues. This criterion proposes the tendency to lack emotional reciprocity and the use of stereotypical cues. Altruistic individuals show global development delays and intellectual disability. 

A specialist or a caregiver can diagnose an autistic child by using observations, social interaction or the Childhood Autism Rating Scale available in the healthcare centers. The Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) specialists perform physical and intellectual observation to determine the level of autism in a child (Lord et al, 2012) . These two diagnostic methods require observational and detailing of the patterns of stereotypical movements, intensity of compulsive behaviors, resistance to change, ritualistic behaviors and the level of limited focus. Specialists then assess the use and the strength of the muscle tone, motor planning measurements and the child’s ability to walk on toes as a diagnose criteria (Lloyd et al., 2013)

Treatments for Autism 

In the treatment of autism, parents or guardians focus on the reduction of personal deficits to increase functional dependence of the person. Patients with high IQs tend to respond better to behavioral and cognitive treatment. In contrast to this view, those with remarkable intellectual disability respond better to physical intervention through medication. Behavioral interventions at an early age help individuals with autism to gain social, communication and self-care skills. Every treatment is unique to the needs of an individual due to the various spectrums of autism. 

The psychosocial interventions have proved to be progressive in sustaining significant reduction of the symptoms associated with autism. Such individuals undergo intensive behavioral therapy sessions and special education programs that reduce the maladaptive tendencies. When exposed to interventions at a younger age, autistic individuals substantially show long term interventions. The specialist or parents use the objects that the patient is fond of and utilize the objects’ viewpoint to create a learning environment. Soon the child develops interest in other objects and gains knowledge from different perspectives. 

The treatment process involves approaches such as the applied behavioral analysis, which is a step-by-step cognitive technique. Other models include language therapy and structured teaching in a comprehensive manner. The ASD specialists also train the parents on ways to administer Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) approach. In this model, the parents observe the progress of the child by administering behavioral interventions (Lord et al, 2012). The Developmental Social Pragmatic (DSP) approach works well with the ABA. 

Medications for autism 

In case the behavioral interventions fail to manage the autism symptoms, specialists recommend anticonvulsants and psychoactive drugs. These medications deal with symptoms such as depression, laziness and compulsive behavior. The aripiprazole and risperidone are the common antipsychotic drugs that treat repetitiveness, irritability and sleepiness in autistic individuals. Furthermore, some parents use the vaccinations against rubella as a treatment if the mother is infected. There is no proved remission for autism and therefore the caregiver has to come up with ways to manage the situation. 


Autism is a manageable condition that requires the right attitude and patience when dealing with a family or a patient. People should generally have the information on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and different treatments for the disorder so as to help a good number of people that have the disorder. Close observation and behavioral therapy for children is useful in reducing the intensity of symptoms of autism. 


Anderson, K. A., Shattuck, P. T., Cooper, B. P., Roux, A. M., & Wagner, M. (2014).Prevalence and correlates of postsecondary residential status among young adults with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism , 18 (5), 562-570. 

De Rubeis, S., He, X., Goldberg, A. P., Poultney, C. S., Samocha, K., Cicek, A. E., ... & Singh, T. (2014). Synaptic, transcriptional and chromatin genes disrupted in autism. Nature , 515 (7526), 209-215. 

Lloyd, M., MacDonald, M., & Lord, C. (2013).Motor skills of toddlers with autism spectrum disorders. Autism , 17 (2), 133-146. 

Lord, C., DiLavore, P. C., & Gotham, K. (2012). Autism diagnostic observation schedule . Torrance, CA: Western Psychological Services. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Autism: Symptoms and Treatments.


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