- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Are Children Born With Autism?
What is Autism?
Autism or Autism spectrum Disorder(s) are developmental brain abnormalities.
A diagnosis of autism, or it's closely related spectrum disorders, indicates that a child has a genetic, neurological disorder that will be prevalent throughout life and in varying degrees of severity.
The Autism Spectrum
A child diagnosed with autism or any disorder on the spectrum of autism such as Asperger's or Pervasive Developmental Disorder has issues with social interactions, verbal and non-verbal communications, and often engage in repetitive behaviors.
Evidence also suggests that children diagnosed with a spectrum disorder are prone to sleep issues, attention issues, gastrointestinal issues, and motor development delays.
Each case and set of symptoms is unique to the child diagnosed on the spectrum.
A Larger Cerebellum?
What makes the autistic brain different?
As an embryo develops into an infant the brain pathways are set. These pathways will continue to grow and develop as the child does. For example, the pathways responsible for learning, movement, social, & sensory actions will mature as your child utilizes and develops these ares of the brain.
When a child is born he or she is born with ton's of open nerve fibers in their brain. The autistic brain seems to have an overabundance of these open nerve fibers. The nerve fibers within the normal brain tend to grow closer together as the child develops. However, in the autistic brain the nerve fibers don't get as close as they should and signals are disrupted. The abundance of nerve fibers in the autistic brain that are inadequately connected give an autistic child a disadvantage and make them prone to sensory disorders.
What are Neurotransmitters?
Neurotransmitters are chemicals located within the brain. They are responsible for getting the nerve impulses from one place to another.
The role of neurotransmitters...
Neurotransmitters in the autistic brain are often unable to complete their tasks according to what society deems "normal". Two neurotransmitters serotonin (behaviors and emotions) and glutamate (which helps the neurons along the way) are key neurotransmitters that science believes plays a large role in the development of autism and it's behavior patters.
Are babies born with Autism?
Yes. Children are born with autistic tendencies. Remember our genetic makeup is predicted at conception. However, a child born with slight autistic genetic tendencies may never exhibit symptoms. The brain can sometimes compensate for it's counterparts that fail to complete their jobs.
On the other hand if the tendencies are severe, and the brain is unable to compensate; at approximately 2-3 years of age symptoms of a spectrum disorder may be evident.
Quick Facts on Autism
- Autism occurs in approximately 1 out of every 110 children in the U.S. (Reference: CDC, 2009)
- Autism is the third most common developmental disorder in the U.S., affecting at least 500,000 people.
- Autism is seen more often in boys; four or five boys will have autism compared to one girl. But girls with autism are often more severely affected than boys and score lower on intelligence tests.
- Some people with autism are gifted in certain areas such as math or music.
If babies are born with autism why does it take so long for symptoms to appear?
The best explanation I could find to explain the way autism effects the developing brain is taken from the Autism Speaks website:
"In most medical conditions, the underlying processes are triggered before their signs and symptoms become obvious. Consider arthritis. The joints are breaking down and inflammation is setting in years before the aches and pains appear. In dyslexia (reading disability), the symptoms aren’t obvious until a child starts learning how to read. But the symptoms are rooted in brain differences that are present much earlier in development."
Is autism just genetic?
Some studies suggest that environmental factors may play a role in the development of autism:
- prenatal exposure to the chemicals thalidomide and valproic acid
- parental age at conception
- maternal nutrition
- infection during pregnancy
The brain abnormalities are almost always present. The occurrences of the above, may or may not, encourage symptoms.
For more on environmental factors and autism see: What do scientists mean when they talk about ‘environmental factors’ that cause autism?
- Autism Speaks
"10 Years of Progress a Lifetime of Hope"
- Autism Society
"50 Years of Celebrating Support within the Community"
- Margaret L. Bauman, MD
Dr. Bauman is a Neurologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism and various neurological disorders in children, adolescents, and adults to include learning and developmental disabilities, seizures, cerebral palsy, and neurogeneti