Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurobiological developmental condition that manifests in childhood and lasts throughout life. It affects cognitive, emotional and social skills and competencies. Characteristics include qualitative impairments in social interaction and communication, repetitive patterned behavior, and a restrictive repertoire of interests and activities. Its development appears to be caused by the interaction between inheritable genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
Although the etiology of autism is not clarified, it is currently known that there are genetic factors that explain a greater susceptibility to develop the disorder. As it is one of the neurological disorders with the greatest genetic influence, performing a DNA test can help to know the predisposition to suffer from autism and/or transmit it to offspring. A genetic analysis can help in an early diagnosis.
Apart from genetic factors, environmental factors also play a role, such as the advanced age of the parents, the ingestion of toxins and certain drugs during pregnancy, among others that have been related to ASD.
It is evident that early diagnosis of autism is the first step to favor the prognosis and subsequent evolution of the child. It is also very important to guide and help families to adequately manage the difficulties that the autistic person may present.
The diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5) are:
– Persistent impairments in communication and social interaction in a variety of contexts.
– Restrictive and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities.
These symptoms must manifest in the early developmental period. Therefore, if any anomaly is observed in a child’s behavior, genetic testing can be done. If autism-related variations are present in the genes studied, it can help in early diagnosis and initiate treatment as soon as possible.
The aim of treatment is to reduce the impact of communication deficits in both personal and professional life, improve quality of life and functional independence. Treatments must be personalized and tailored to each individual.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that limits understanding and adaptation to the reality surrounding the person. Understanding the disorder and treating the person from the beginning of their life is very important in order to normalize, integrate and include them in society without prejudice.