Autism is a developmental disease of the brain that first exhibits signs during infancy or childhood and continues without any abatement or relapse. It is capable of being passed from one generation to the next, although the genetics are complex and it is not known exactly which genes transfer it. The disorder is characterized by a group of symptoms rather than one simple symptom and the needs of persons who have it vary greatly. It is identified by impaired social behavior, problems with verbal/nonverbal communication, and odd, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests.
Symptoms frequently include trouble with using and recognizing language; difficulty relating to individuals, objects, and happenings; unusual play with toys and other objects; difficulty with variations in routine or familiar surroundings, and repetitious body movements or behavior patterns. They can range from mild to very severe. Parents frequently become aware of autistic symptoms in their child around the time of a normal vaccination.
Parental worries about vaccines has led to a decreasing rate of childhood immunizations and an increasing likelihood of measles epidemics; However there is overwhelming scientific evidence indicating no causal association between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism, and there is no scientific evidence that the vaccine preservative thiomersal aids or causes the behavior.
The growing popularity of drug treatment choices and the expansion of benefits has given physicians incentives to diagnose ASD, resulting in some over diagnosis of children with uncertain signs. Children with ASD may respond atypically to drugs and the drugs can have adverse side effects. There is no known medication that eases autism’s core symptoms of social and communication impairments.
Researchers have isolated several brain abnormalities in those with autism; But, the reasons for these abnormalities is not understood nor is the influence that they might have on behavior. Research has shown that parents are often correct about noticing developmental problems, although they may not realize the specific nature or degree of the problem.
Environmental factors that have been claimed to add to or exacerbate the condition, or may be important in future research, include certain kinds of foods, infectious disease, heavy metals, solvents, diesel exhaust, PCBs, phthalates and phenols used in plastic compounds, pesticides, brominated flame retardants, alcohol, smoking, illicit drugs, and vaccines.
Treatments include behavior and communication therapies, drugs to control symptoms and is most successful when directed toward the child’s special needs. The main goals are to decrease associated deficits and family distress, and to increase quality of life and functional independence. Over the years, families have tried various kinds of traditional and non-traditional ways to reduce autistic behaviors and to increase normal behaviors. The 2 which have received the most empirical support are Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA; behavior modification) and the use of vitamin B6 with magnesium supplements.
For a great number of children, signs get better with treatment and with age. Parents should be ready to adjust therapy for their child as required. The ideal therapy plan coordinates therapies and interventions that focus on the core symptoms of autism: faulty social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and obsessive or repetitious routines and interests. Parents should use caution before adopting any of these treatments.
Autism is a brain development malady that obstructs social interaction and communication, and causes restricted and repetitiious behavior, all starting prior to a child reaching three years of age. It is three times more likely to affect males than females. The disorder varies greatlyly in its severity and symptoms and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is hidden by more debilitating handicaps. Autism is not treated with surgery or drugs (although some may be given medicine to improve certain symptoms, such as aggressive behavior or attention problems). It remains a challenging condition for individuals and their families, but the outlook today is far superior to a generation ago.
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