April is National Autism Awareness Month. People come together to help increase the understanding and acceptance of people with autism. Approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. Improvements can be made with learning, communication, social skills, and brain development if autism is diagnosed early.
What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental brain disorder that affects a child’s communication and behavior. It first appears in young children, who fall along a spectrum from mild to severe. Some people can navigate their world, some have exceptional abilities, while others struggle to speak. Some children with autism may show symptoms from birth, while others may develop more signs as they age. Autism impacts the nervous system.
Autism is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) because there is a “spectrum” of disorders. The severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include difficulty with social skills, repetitive behavior, obsessive interests, speech, and communication. Each child with autism spectrum disorder has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. Some children are severely challenged and may require support with their daily routines, while others may need less support.
What Causes Autism?
There is no one cause of autism. Research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic influences. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child will develop autism. If a parent carries one or more of these genes, they may get passed on to a child. The majority of these gene changes do not cause autism by themselves.
Other causes may include:
- Children born to older parents are at a higher risk of having autism.
- When a pregnant woman is exposed to certain drugs or chemicals, her child is more likely to be autistic.
- Research shows that there is not any link between childhood vaccinations and autism.
There’s no medical test for autism, but exams may be helpful to rule out hearing loss, speech difficulties, lead poisoning, or developmental problems not related to autism. Parents may need to answer a list of questions — called a screening tool — to assess a child’s behavior and communication skills. Getting treatment early, ideally before age three, can greatly improve a child’s development.
May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month
Next month we will educate you about high blood pressure. We will explain how high blood pressure diagnosed, the different types of high blood pressure, and why you need to worry about high blood pressure.
If you have any questions, contact a healthcare provider at LaGrange Medical Center and Urgent Care by phone, in person, email, or US postal mail. Call 708-352-0330 or send us your questions to 6170 Joliet Road
Countryside, IL 60525.