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What are the Effects of Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impacts communication, behavior, and social interaction in diverse ways. Each individual's experience is unique, with some facing challenges in verbal expression and others excelling in visual and creative fields. The effects can range from giftedness to needing lifelong support. How does this complex condition manifest in daily life? Explore the visual journey of autism's multifaceted effects. What will you discover?
Emma Lloyd
Emma Lloyd

Autism is a developmental disability that usually is diagnosed early in childhood. Children with autism show signs of developmentally delayed social interaction and communication, and they often are fascinated by repetitive activity. Both children and adults with autism have restricted ability to engage in and understand social interactions, and they often have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or interpreting their tone of voice and facial expressions. The effects of autism profoundly affect the life and capabilities of the child as well as his or her family.

The cause of autism is unknown, and it is thought the development of the condition is likely because of a number of factors rather than one single cause. Studies on identical and non-identical twins show genetics play an important role in determining whether a child will be autistic. Other factors that have been suggested to play a role include digestive issues, dietary sensitivity or allergies, mercury poisoning and sensitivity to early childhood vaccination.

Autistic children have a difficult time interpreting other people's facial expression.
Autistic children have a difficult time interpreting other people's facial expression.

The effects of autism commonly are divided into three categories: the effects on social communication, the effects on social interaction and the effects on social imagination. The exact nature of the effects of autism can vary quite considerably between different people with autism. For example, some people with autism can become adept at verbal communication, but others never learn to talk. For this reason, the condition is often referred to not as autism, but as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Other autism spectrum disorders include pervasive developmental disorder and Asperger’s syndrome.

An autistic child may be fascinated with stacking up objects.
An autistic child may be fascinated with stacking up objects.

In most cases, parents begin to notice symptoms of autism in their child by the time he or she reaches the age of 2. At this age, a child with autism is likely to be developmentally delayed in both verbal and nonverbal communication and in social interaction. For example, the child might not respond to his or her name and might not smile or show other signs of facial expression. In addition, the child typically appears to be unimaginative and does not engage in pretend play. Instead, he or she is more likely to be fascinated with stacking or lining up objects and with repetitive body motion.

An autistic child may have difficulty making friends with peers.
An autistic child may have difficulty making friends with peers.

As the child grows older, the effects of autism tend to become more profound. At school, children with autism typically are unable to engage in play with other children, particularly social or imaginative play, and they are unable to make friends with their peers. In general, a child with autism has trouble initiating and sustaining conversations and does not cope well with interruptions in his or her routine. Often, the child will focus on one or two subjects of interest to the exclusion of all or most others. Some children with autism also display aggressive behavior, particularly when interrupted during a task or routine.

Studies on identical and non-identical twins show that genetics play an important role in determining whether a child will be autistic.
Studies on identical and non-identical twins show that genetics play an important role in determining whether a child will be autistic.

In addition to its effects on the child, the effects of autism on family members also are significant. Parents must quickly adjust to having different expectations for their child and to the fact that their own lives will change dramatically as a result of caring for an autistic child. This impact extends to the autistic child’s siblings, who also must make considerable adjustments. Siblings might feel a wide range of emotions, from sadness to anger, guilt, anxiety, resentment and embarrassment, and the siblings often have difficulty coping with these emotions.

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Discussion Comments

Heavanet

Families with children with autism do not have to feel that they are along. Today, there is more autism awareness than ever, and organizations are available that provide information and outreach. There are also support groups that help families network to help their children with autism reach their full potential regardless of the effects of autism on children.

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    • Autistic children have a difficult time interpreting other people's facial expression.
      By: sneksy13
      Autistic children have a difficult time interpreting other people's facial expression.
    • An autistic child may be fascinated with stacking up objects.
      By: Lsantilli
      An autistic child may be fascinated with stacking up objects.
    • An autistic child may have difficulty making friends with peers.
      By: Yvonne Bogdanski
      An autistic child may have difficulty making friends with peers.
    • Studies on identical and non-identical twins show that genetics play an important role in determining whether a child will be autistic.
      By: Svetlana Fedoseeva
      Studies on identical and non-identical twins show that genetics play an important role in determining whether a child will be autistic.
    • The sibling of a young child with autism may have a difficult time making necessary emotional and social adjustments.
      By: Aliaksei Lasevich
      The sibling of a young child with autism may have a difficult time making necessary emotional and social adjustments.
    • Autistic children are often upset when their routine is interrupted.
      By: auremar
      Autistic children are often upset when their routine is interrupted.
    • Occupational therapy is often used to help children with autism to improve their ability to move their bodies so they can use scissors, ride tricycles and catch balls.
      By: g215
      Occupational therapy is often used to help children with autism to improve their ability to move their bodies so they can use scissors, ride tricycles and catch balls.
    • Some autistic children may display aggressive behavior.
      By: Aliaksei Lasevich
      Some autistic children may display aggressive behavior.
    • Children with autism might have difficulties getting along with peers.
      By: majesticca
      Children with autism might have difficulties getting along with peers.