Key Information About Autism
Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It refers to a broad range of conditions that affect communication and behavior.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
There is no known single cause for ASD, but many experts are of the opinion that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function.
Research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental influences.
Various genes may be involved in autism spectrum disorder. For some children, the disorder can be associated with a genetic disorder, like Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome. For other children, genetic changes (mutations) may increase the risk of ASD.
Prenatal viral infection is a non-genetic cause of autism. Certain environmental exposures in the womb may increase the chances of a child developing autism.
The range and severity of symptoms of autism can vary widely. Social communication challenges and restricted, repetitive behaviors are core symptoms of autism.
Common symptoms include lack of social or emotional exchanges like pointing, smiling, showing you things; lack of non-verbal communication such as nodding and shaking head, using hand gestures; difficulty in developing and maintaining relationships appropriate to the age, such as peer play, lack of close friends; delayed expressed speech and understanding of speech; lack of eye contact when speaking; loss of language skills at any age; excessively following routines, patterns or behaviour, and becoming distressed at changes; stereotyped or repetitive speech, movements or use of objects, such as rolling wheels before eyes, flapping hands, toe walking; strongly reacting to sensory input such as sound, pain or textures; restricted or fixated interests such as only playing with certain toys or discussing certain topics; and being aggressive toward other people or toward self.
Autism is characterised by repetitive, stereotypical and often restricted behaviour such as head-nodding, and by the difficulties those with it have in reading the emotions of, and communicating with, other people.
A research team, led by Juergen Hahn, the head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has developed a physiological test that relies on an algorithm that analyzes measurements of metabolites in a blood sample to predict whether or not a person has an ASD diagnosis.
There is no medically known cure for autism; however, if it is caught in infancy, treatment can take full advantage of the young brain’s remarkable plasticity.
The most generally successful approach for children with autism is behavioral therapy.
Applied behavior analysis is often used in schools and clinics to help autistic children learn positive behaviors and reduce negative ones. This approach can be used to improve a wide range of skills.
It is important to work with your doctor to ensure that when medicine is chosen as a form of treatment, it is taken safely and effectively.
It is important that parents work with a registered dietitian to design a meal plan for their autistic child, especially if they want to try a limited diet.
Such providers can help to make sure the child is still getting all the nutrients he or she needs to grow into a healthy adult, even while on the special diet.
The hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin appears to improve repetitive behaviors and attachment problems in adults with autism spectrum disorder over the long term, a research conducted in Belgium suggests.
In mice bred to model autism spectrum disorder, scientists at the University of Tokyo found that exercise spurred the removal of surplus connections in brain circuits and diminished autism-like behavior.
Research studies have found that certain actions can help pregnant women prevent autism.
One Harvard study found that children born to mothers exposed to high pollution levels had twice the risk of autism.
Pregnant women can limit airborne toxins by wearing masks, filling their gas tank after dark, and staying indoors when air quality is low.
It is advisable to avoid areas with high traffic, especially when exercising. For the duration of pregnancy, women should eliminate alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
Switching to green personal care products reduces exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
Some experts suggest avoiding canned foods, plastic water bottles, and excessive cell phone use.
Are you spreading autism awareness?
The most harmful stereotype about autism is that it somehow makes me incompetent, or incapable.... I basically don't tell anyone about my diagnosis, because I don't want them to treat me differently.— Brooke, autistic person.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Srikanth R