What is Autism and How is it Treated

by Editorial Board on April 12, 2012 · 0 comments

in Neurological Disorders,Mental Conditions

Autism and Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are complex disorders of brain development.  A child may exhibit any or all of the following symptoms depending on the severity of the illness: difficulty in verbal and non verbal, communication, repetitive behavior, motor coordination, sleep disturbances, seizures and physical health issues.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of autism usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.  A mildly affected person might have some quirky behavior and lead a typical life.  A severely affected person might not be able to speak or care for himself.   Early intervention is the key to making an extraordinary difference in a child’s development.   How a child is functioning now may be very different from how he or she will function later on in life. An early diagnosis and therapy treatments can improve the quality of life immensely.

Typically, infants are social beings.  Early on, they gaze at people, smile, turn toward voices and grasp fingers.  In contrast, most children with autism have difficulty learning to engage in the give and take of everyday human interactions. Even in their first year of life, many don’t interact and avoid eye contact in a normal way. They usually prefer to be alone and may seem indifferent to other people. Although children with autism are attached to their parents, their expression of attachment is difficult to read.  These children may resist attention or passively accept hugs and kisses.  It may seem as if the child is not connected at all, which is devastating to the parents.

It is common for people with autism to be disruptive and physically aggressive, making social relationships even more difficult.  They have a tendency to lose control when they are in a strange environment, or when they are angry or frustrated.

Presently, there is no medical test to diagnose autism.  Instead, specially trained physicians and psychologists administer autism-specific behavioral evaluations to determine the treatment needed for each individual case.

Intervention can involve behavioral treatments, medicines or both.  In addition, people with autism might experience additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbances, seizures and gastrointestinal distress.  When these conditions are addressed it can improve attention, learning and related behaviors.  As with any illness or diagnosis, the sooner treatment begins the better chance of success for a person with autism.

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