Autism

Introduction
Autism is a complex developmental disability that occurs during the first three years of a person’s life. The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that affects development of the person’s communication and social interaction skills.

People with autism have problems with non-verbal communication which comprise of social interactions, and activities that includes playful element.

Research points that individuals with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or clinical depression share traits with autism.

Symptoms
Most parents of autistic children realize about something being wrong with the child when he is 18 months old and try to seek help by the time he is 2 years old. Children with autism mostly have difficulties in:

  • Being playful
  • Social interactions
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication

Some children with autism seem normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly lose their earlier known language or social skills. This condition is known as regressive type of autism.

People with autism are likely to be:

  • Hyper sensitive to sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste
  • Have unusual distress on change of routines
  • Make repeated body movements
  • Exhibit unusual attachment to objects
  • Has short attention span and narrow interests
  • Is overactive or passive
  • Shows aggression to others or self
  • Uses repetitive body movements

These symptoms can occur in moderate to severe form.

Communication problems could include difficulty in starting or maintaining a social conversation. Patient communicates with gestures instead of words, picks up language slowly or fails at it. Inability to gaze correctly at objects, unable to refer self correctly and using gestures instead of words are some of the observed symptoms.

When it comes to social interaction, they are unable to make friends and lack the ability to play interactive games. They prefer to spend time alone and lack empathy.

Causes
Autism is a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. The exact causes of these abnormalities remain unknown, but this is a very active area of research. There are probably several factors that lead to autism.

Genetic factors are the most relevant. Chromosomal abnormalities and disorders related to nervous system are also common in families with autism.

Diagnosis
All children should undergo routine developmental exams performed by their pediatrician. Further testing is needed if the doctor or parents are concerned. This is applicable when a child fails to fulfill any of the following speech activities or loses social activity skills at any age.

  • Babbling by 12 months
  • Gesturing by 12 months
  • Saying single words by 16 months
  • Saying two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months

Those who are unable to meet above conditions, those children may be asked to undergo test related to evaluate hearing, blood lead test, and screening test for autism.

An examination of autism generally includes a complete physical and nervous system examination.
Children with autism are often made o undergo genetic testing as well as metabolic testing.

Treatment
An early, intensive, appropriate treatment program will greatly improve the outlook for most young children with autism. Most programs will build on the interests of the child in a highly structured schedule of constructive activities. Visual aids are often helpful.

Treatment is most successful when it is geared toward the child’s particular needs. An experienced specialist or team should design the program for the individual child. A variety of therapies are implemented:

  • Applied behavior analysis (ABA)
  • Medications
  • Occupational and physical therapy
  • Speech-language therapy

Ayurvedic Treatment
Treatments such as Thalapothichil, shirodhara, abhyangam are done. Also, medicines for outer application and also for consumption are prescribed. Consult Ayurvedic physician for appropriate medication.

Diet
Children with autism tend to respond better to a gluten-free or casein-free diet. Gluten is found in foods comprising of wheat, rye, and barley. Casein is a component of milk and milk products. Though dietary measures are not proved by doctors as a definite cure for autism. It does help to relieve symptoms.

Homeopathic Remedies
Calcarea phos, Calcarea carb, Silicea, Borax, Lycopodium, Stramonium, Hydrogen, Helium, Thuja, Secretin and Carcinocin are some of the useful homeopathic remedies to treat autism.

 

References
1. Just MA, Cherkassky VL, Buchweitz A, Keller TA, Mitchell TM. Identifying autism from neural representations of social interactions: neurocognitive markers of autism.PLoS One. 2014;9(12):e113879.

2. Filipek PA, et al. Practice parameter: screening and diagnosis of autism: report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society. Neurology 2000 Aug;55(4):468-79. Reaffirmed July 2010.

3. Aylward EH, Minshew NJ, Field K, Sparks BF, Singh N. Effects of age on brain volume and head circumference in autism.Neurology. Jul 23 2002;59(2):175-83.

4. American Psychiatric Association.Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). 5th Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.

5. Antshel KM, Polacek C, McMahon M, Dygert K, Spenceley L, Dygert L, et al. Comorbid ADHD and anxiety affect social skills group intervention treatment efficacy in children with autism spectrum disorders.J Dev Behav Pediatr. Jul-Aug 2011;32(6):439-46.

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