Autism – Astonishing Myths, Causes, Symptoms & Toni Braxton The Advocate

Toni Michele Braxton born on the 7 October, 1967 in Severn Maryland is a seven time Grammy award artiste, actress, and songwriter. Toni rose to stardom in the 90s after her self-titled album’s release. She met Keri Lewis, a member of the group, mint condition, and got married on April 21, 2001. They welcomed their first son Denim in 2001 and second son Diezel in 2002. Toni Braxton noticed that there was something off about Diezel and got him checked. Diezel was diagnosed with autism around the age of two or three years old. Often times, mothers blame themselves for whatever goes wrong and that is what she did. However, thankfully, Toni is now a Global Autism ambassador for Autism speaks. Diezel is now thriving and is in college. He also signed to Wihemina as a model in 2018.

“I wish I knew what triggered it, still, often, as a mom, I blame myself. I didn’t take my vitamins every day…maybe it was the medications I was on before I got pregnant”

Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton and Son, Diezel

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder that affects the functioning of the brain. It usually appears by age two. It is characterized by impairments in a child’s communication skills and social interactions. The causes of autism have been somewhat debated. However, here are some causes to consider: –

Causes of Autism

1. Genetics

Genetics contributes to about 40-80% of cases with autism. Researchers found that genetics contributed majorly since 1977, when they discovered that identical twins often share autism. One of the myths that needs to be dissolved is that autism has a gene. No, there is no autism gene. However, mutations in the DNA, of certain genes can lead to this condition. These mutations can be inherited by parents and can also arise spontaneously in an egg or sperm.

2. Environmental Factors

Research has shown that environmental factors such as prenatal exposure to air pollution and certain pesticides can put you at risk of having a child with autism. Other environmental factors involve the health of the mother. Obesity, diabetes or other immune disorders are associated with this condition.

3. Advanced Parental Age; The Time of Conception

Research has proven that mothers that conceive over the age of 40 are at a higher risk of having a child with autism. In fact, they are at a 51% greater risk of having a child with autism compared to younger mothers.

4. Early Disruption of Brain Growth

Research has shown that this area is still under studied. However, researchers have found that there is abnormal brain overgrowth in children with autism before the age of two. This abnormality occurs in the cerebral, cerebellar, and limbic structures. All of these are involved in cognitive, social, emotional and language functions.

5. Preterm Birth

Studies have shown that premature babies are far more likely to have this condition than a baby that is born at full term.

6. Metabolism Disorders

Studies have shown that there is an imbalance in glutathione-dependent redox metabolism which has been associated with autism spectrum disorder.

7. Having Viral Infections During Pregnancy

Studies have shown that having viral infections during the critical periods of pregnancy, like in utero neurodevelopment, can lead to anxiety and increased risk of a child having this condition.


Signs of Autism

Here are some characteristics that are associated with Autism: -Limited eye contact – this is one of the most common signs of autism. Persons that have autism are less likely to look at anyone directly in the eye.

  • There is a limited response to social interaction – they may be disengaged because they are simply not interested in being social.
  • Repetitive speech and behavioral patterns – many of the children use echolalia, which simply means that they repeat words or phases over and over.
  • Does not show facial expressions like happy or sad by the age of nine months – at nine months there is supposed to be some kind of back-and-forth sounds, smiles and facial expressions. Not noticing this, is a sign and is concerning.
  • Does not respond to name by nine months – although this is quite alarming, it does not necessarily have to be autism. This can also indicate that the child has a receptive language disorder.

Signs Con’t

  • Difficulties maintaining or responding to conversations – because it is difficult to respond and maintain conversations with others, a child with autism finds it difficult to have friends.
  • Does not play with others – every child is different and this should not be looked at as a first sign. However, if a child is growing and there is still a lack of interest in playing with others, it can be a sign of concern.
  • Does not want to be cuddled – parents that have children with autism find it sometimes difficult to bond. Especially since that child would not like to be held or cuddled.
  • Are extremely passionate about specific topics or objects – advocate She Abramowski explained that many persons that have autism feel extremely passionate about their interests, and they feel as though that particular topic or object is unique.
  • Uncomfortable with changes to their routine for some with autism – slight changes in their routine can lead to anxiety. Often times leading them being very uncomfortable.

Consequences of Having Autism

It has been found that children that have autism are at higher risk of the following: –

  1. Depressiondepression is a medical condition that negatively affects the way you feel. Depression is more likely found in persons that have autism and is mostly common when they get to adolescence.
  2. Anxiety – this is an excessive feeling of worry or fear. Research has shown that up to half of the persons that are autistic suffer from anxiety.
  3. OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) – this is a mental health disorder that can lead to repetitive behaviors.
  4. Gastrointestinal problems – children that have autism are more likely to have gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea or constipation. This may be due to the fact that children with autism have poor diets because of their selective eating.
  5. Sleep disorders – some persons that have this condition do have problems sleeping and this can be due to them having a problem calming down.
  6. Obesity – studies have recently shown that persons with severe autism are likely to become obese.
  7. High blood pressure and diabetes – this occurs mainly in adults who have autism.
  8. Seizures – this is very common among persons that have autism. 5-38% of persons that have autism develop seizures.

How is Autism Diagnosed?

A reliable diagnosis can be done and is usually possible at the age of two years old. A screening is usually done to diagnose this. The screening is usually done by a doctor or nurse. In the screening process you will be asked questions about your child as it relates to their language, movement, thinking behaviors and emotions. Remember, early diagnosis is so much better because it will enable you as the parent and the child to get the support they need.

What Can You Do?

Firstly, there are medications (antipsychotic). These medications treat irritability that is associated with Autism. Before the use of these drugs, please speak with a health care provider. There is also therapy for both parent and child. Most commonly the child can undergo speech development therapy. There are others that deal with anxiety, depression and if there is sleep deprivation. When the child is at home, you can make the environment safe. When speaking to the child, use concise language, even incorporating pictures. In addition, stick to routines, this will really help the child.

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