Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, is a condition related to the brain that changes how a person perceives sensory input and how they interact with others. Mild cases can cause lifelong problems with social interaction. Severe cases require a lot of external support.
ASD is not a birth injury, but many birth injuries can cause it by damaging the brain. Premature babies and babies with insufficient oxygen are at a higher risk of developing the condition. There is no cure, but many children with it can learn how to cope with their symptoms if they get early treatment, and you can get that help from an Arizona birth injury lawyer.
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Symptoms of Autistic Spectrum Disorder
According to the criteria set in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition (DSM-5), children must have a persistent deficit in three kinds of social interaction and show at least two types of restrictive, repetitive behaviors.
Social Communication Deficits
- Deficit in social-emotional reciprocity
- Deficit in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction
- Deficit in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships
Restrictive Repetitive Behaviors
- Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech
- Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of verbal or non-verbal behavior
- Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus
- Hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment
There are also three other components needed to complete the diagnosis:
- These symptoms must be present in early development (though may not fully appear until social demands exceed capacity (e.g., school), and they may become masked by learned strategies later in life).
- The symptoms cause a clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of life.
- The symptoms are not better explained by another diagnosis.
Parents should not use this checklist to diagnose their children. If your child shows some of these symptoms, then we suggest consulting with a mental health professional with experience in childhood autism.
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Why Is It a Spectrum?
Every person with ASD has their own presentation of the condition. Each of the symptoms can have a different level of severity and present differently. For instance, deficits in nonverbal communicative behavior can range from poor eye contact and body language to a total lack of facial expression.
Children and adults can sometimes learn strategies to mimic “neurotypical” (non-ASD) patterns of behavior. This is called masking. This can be done with the help of a therapist or, sometimes, through painful trial and error as they grow up.
Autistic behaviors can also change based on the amount of stress a child has. It’s important to know that the amount of stress can be quite small to trigger behaviors like shutdowns (an inward withdrawal from the outside world), or meltdowns (explosions of aggressive/tantrum-like behavior from an inability to control their environment).
Treatment of ASD in Children
There is no single standard treatment of ASD, but there are ways you can help your child maximize their potential and minimize the symptoms. After diagnosis, you’ll need to work with medical professionals to understand your child’s unique presentation of ASD.
From there, they can develop a treatment plan to help your child. Early intervention is essential for the best outcomes. Treatment can include:
- Various forms of physical and social therapy (e.g., CBT, nutrition, physical, social skills, or speech language)
- Mental help (e.g., CBT)
Since ASD covers so many behaviors, it’s vital to do the work to understand your child’s particular symptoms and treat those, rather than treating ASD as a diagnostic label and seeking a singular cure or treatment.
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How do Birth Injuries Cause Autistic Spectrum Disorder?
Scientists do not have an explanation for the underlying causes of ASD, but there are several things that can raise its chances of manifesting. Three of them are premature birth, brain inflammation, and oxygen problems before, during, or soon after birth.
From 22 weeks until 39 weeks, an infant’s brain undergoes rapid development and grows by at least a third. This is a very delicate time in a child’s development. Any undetected problems in the child or the mother can affect the brain and create the potential for ASD after birth.
If your child was born prematurely, especially before 27 weeks of gestation, or they were diagnosed with a condition like hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (birth asphyxia) after birth, we urge you to have your child tested for autistic spectrum disorder and to contact a birth injury lawyer in your state.
Why Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer for ASD?
Paying for an ASD diagnosis and getting professional support for a child with this condition is expensive, especially for severe cases. Some children are profoundly affected by ASD and need constant care.
If a doctor’s negligence caused the mother or child to be injured, you can sue them for compensation for that injury and its consequences. So you can get compensation for ASD treatment if we can link its cause to a birth injury your child or the mother suffered.
Birth injuries linked to ASD include:
- Birth asphyxia
- Improperly positioned fetus (transverse or breech)
- Fetal dystocia
- Placental abruption
- Maternal diabetes
Reach Out to a Birth Injury Lawyer
If you suspect your child has autistic spectrum disorder and you suffered a birth-related injury, tell a birth injury lawyer right away. Even if the symptoms didn’t appear until the child has reached a certain age, your case may still be within the statute of limitations.
You could get compensation to pay for the care your child needs to cope with their symptoms. Without it, they may face tremendous struggles that can lead to other mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Learn your legal options now by contacting the Birth Injury Lawyers Group for a free consultation.