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- Autism & Asperger's Syndrome
Your Child and Autism
What is Autism
Autism is a challenging disease which makes no mark on the outward physical appearance of a child who looks normal but when someone tries to talk to the child he usually avoids eye contact, if insisted he starts rocking his whole body and yells sentences which have little or no meaning.
Autism comes from 'autis' a Greek word meaning 'self' which squarely fits the features of this disease. Children suffering from Autism have no empathy for others, absolutely withdrawn from their surroundings yet they feel normal emotions like pleasure, fear and rage. Till now scientists have just come to know that this disease is usually inherited.
After 1990's a new discovery of nerve cells were made and these brain cells are called mirror neurons. These cells are involved in abilities such as empathy so it is perceived that any dysfunction of these mirror cells could also be the cause of autism.
Losses of empathy, difficulty in speaking, reduced imitation among others are also the symptoms that show that mirror neurons were dysfunctional. Due to different nature of symptoms theorists have proposed to divide autism into two groups, anatomical and psychological. Besides abnormalities of the cerebellum which coordinates highly complex voluntary muscle movements is also a cause. There is another theory called ‘theory of other minds' but it is not a viable theory as it does not be carried far beyond restarting autism symptoms.
Human brain’s frontal lobe helps control voluntary movements. Brain imaging techniques revealed that the human cortex also contain mirror neurons they send commands and are involved in sending commands to simulate imitation it is the reason that when a baby is shown tongue, the infant tries to imitate the same.
Mu Waves suppression
EEG of a child revealed that it has a visible mu wave which looked suppressed as he made some movement but once this child looked at some other fellow perform the same action this suppression did not occur. This proves that the child has an intact motor command system, but the deficiency lies in the mirror neurons. More than 60 years ago German-American psychologist Wolfgang Köhler discovered through his famous bouba/kiki effect abstract properties of shapes and sound can be fathomed by the brain. The angular gyrus, lying in brain, is responsible for hearing and feeling of touch.
Can the mirror neurons be repaired?
Mirror neurons deficiency in autism patients can be used as a diagnostic tool in identifying children with autism in their early infancy and hence apply this knowledge with the help of available therapies. Doctors could also monitor mu waves of a child with autism. If MDMA or ecstasy can foster emotional closeness then based on the formulation modifications can be made to the compound to develop safe treatment to alleviate some symptoms of autism. William Hirstein of Elmhurst College and Portia Iversen of Cure Autism have developed what the salience landscape theory. When human brain is overwhelmed with different information these are then processed by the brain's sensory area and relayed to amygdala which determines how to respond to these information. Amygdala creates a salience landscape which reveals the significance of everything in the patient’s environs. But in autism children this landscape is distorted, so a child with autism is unable to focus on something like normal kids. One of the reasons for distorted salience landscape is that autism children have had temporal lobe epilepsy anytime during their infancy. The reason for such epilepsy during infancy is both genetic and environmental. There is a possibility that for describing autism’s two symptoms, the mirror neuron dysfunction and distorted salience landscape. The distorted links between limbic system and brain might be responsible for damaging the mirror neurons. But further experiments are required to put these conjectures into test.
Human brain is able to extract abstract properties from shapes and sounds. When human brain is overwhelmed with different information these are then processed by the brain's sensory area and relayed to amygdala which determines how to respond to these information and creates a salience. But in case of autism patients this salience landscape is distorted this can be due to temporal lobe epilepsy in infancy. Although the two symptoms of autism, mirror neuron dysfunction and distorted salience landscape do not contradict each other, but more research is needed to prove this.
Ayurveda also offers effective treatment for Autism, especially in children. If a child is hyperactive, has problems in concentrating, has problems in digesting, can not sleep well, then Ayurveda can also be of great help.
Ayurvedics postulate that in autism the functional areas of the brain are dormant due to the inflammation/molecular disorder and they could be activated to functional efficiency by treating the inflammation and restoring molecular order.
Practice breathing the following way, monitor the difference
1. Use your right hand to close your right nostril with your thumb
2. Inhale through the left nostril
3. Hold the breath, closing both nostrils
4. Exhale through the right nostril, while keeping the left nostril closed
5. Inhale through the right nostril, while keeping the left nostril closed
6. Do it daily early morning for fifteen minutes