|National Autism Awareness Month|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 14:08|
Since the 1970s, the Autism Society in the U.S. has marked April as National Autism Awareness Month, promoting public awareness about autism. In honor of these efforts, the National Week explores the disease, from common symptoms to treatments.
What is Autism?
Autism, (or Autistic Spectrum Disorder ASD), is a neurological disorder linked to abnormal brain chemistry, which develops during the first three years of a child. Although there are many theories about what causes the condition, the exact cause is still unknown.
The exact number of individuals with autism is also uncertain. One reason for the uncertainty is the recently increased rate of individuals diagnosed with the condition, thanks to newer, broader definitions of autism. "Autism" can be used to describe a wide range of individual conditions. As a result, symptoms are varied, without a basic trait among individual ASD patients.
Parents can usually recognized signs of autism by 18 months of age, if the child demonstrates difficulty with social interaction and communication. Common behaviors include:
• Difficulty communicating: Because of autism's slow language development, it's hard for children with autism to talk with other people and express themselves using words, often instead repeating words and phrases they hear from others. Some with more serious problems have difficulty understanding words and are unable to communicate without special help. Others may show a desire to express themselves verbally and partake in social activities, but lack the skills to do so. This could lead to difficulty making friends, as many with autism prefer to spend time alone, rather than with others
• Over-sensitivity: One symptom is acute, often painful sensitivity of sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste. Children with these symptoms often react negatively to brightly lit places, certain scents and laud sounds
• Physical development: Autistic children may display problems in coordination and have difficulties in physical sports.
• Repetitive behavior: Many children with autism favor controlled, predictable routines and behaviors. This can include repeated body movements, repeated words, ritualistic play, and immense perseverance on a single topic or task – a particular trait that can often lead to extraordinary mastery of a talent. But any dramatic departure from their routine can also spark severe emotion distress.
There is no biological test for autism. Diagnosis depends on a complete behavioral and neurological evaluation, which must be done by a health practitioner.
Early, intensive treatment works best for most children with autism. Through a highly structured schedule of constructive activities, a treatment program should focus on the particular needs and strengths of the child. Some methods include:
• Therapy: This includes physical, speech-language and occupations therapy. One therapy option is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which uses a one-on-one teaching approach that reinforces the practice of various skills. Another program developed in North Carolina is the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), which uses picture schedules and other visual cues that provides a structured environment while promoting independence.
• Medications: Medicine used to regulate mood swings, hyperactivity and extreme compulsions are used use help control behavioral symptoms common among autistic children.
• Diet: Some children with autism have responded well to a gluten-free or casein-free diet. Gluten is found in products made from wheat, rye, and barley, while casein is common in dairy products. Not all experts agree however that a specialized diet helps.
Reference : http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/autism/