A reason behind the apprentice rise in autism spectrum disorder in advanced countries can be attributed to growing awareness. Many cases that were diagnosed as “mental retardation” or “intellectual disability” are a few decades back are now being diagnosed as autism. The number of people affected with autism spectrum disorder in less-developed countries is much lower. That does not mean the disorder is less common. It's largely because of shortcomings in data collection and diagnosis.
Another major reason is that scientists and researchers have changed the method for diagnosing autism. The “spectrum” of conditions has now expanded and includes Asperger's syndrome. It's a milder disorder. But like autism, many people having Asperger's syndrome, struggle in their learning skills and have to use apps like “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” to help them in their education. Autistic children with above average IQ may not face any difficulty in communicating.
There's no objective test to diagnoseose autism spectrum disorder. Diagnosis is usually made by observing behavior that includes failure to make eye contact or reciprocate when called by the name. An autistic child may play with toys in a peculiar manner, for instance, running the train back and forth on the floor hundreds of times or lining up the dinosaurs in a perfect row. He / she may not start speaking at the appropriate age.
Counselors typically spot the presence of autism spectrum disorder among children by the age of two. But in advanced countries, the average diagnosis age is around three-and-half years. The screening system is rarely universal. There's usually a long wait between parents first expressing their concern and the diagnosis finally happening. Less than one-fifth of children in the US are actually diagnosed of autism spectrum disorder before turning two years of age.
The consequence is that the disorder gets enough time to progress. The brain is at the most malleable stage in the first two years after birth. Infants are voracious learners in this period. They observe people around them and listen and watch them laughing, talking and eating. They play with both adults and other children. But autistic children are usually fixated with inanimate objects that limit their learning from the environment. Autism spectrum disorder is a social condition that manifests so quickly that it soon escalates to intellectual disability.
Autistic children can be treated only if the condition is detected early enough. Intensive counseling often helps in alleviating the symptoms. Scientists use applied behavioral analysis (ABA) and one-on-one sessions to detect the level of autism. Evaluation of the autistic child's life skills are used to monitor progress. But rewarding the progress is important. A child who learns greeting people could be rewarded with a warm smile.
A study on children with autism in Washington last year revealed encouraging results. Kids treated between the age of 18 to 30 months that combine ABA and exposure to autism apps like “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm”, shown noticeable improvement in their communication. The study proved that early detection is cost-effective and goes a long way in alleviating the symptoms