Autism is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person’s communication and social interaction skills. Autism is called complex developmental disability. Experts believe that Autism presents itself during the first three years of a person’s life. People with autism have issues with non-verbal communication, a wide range of social interactions, and activities that include an element of play and/or joking.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a array of complex neuro-development disorders, distinguished by social mutilations, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD. Experts estimate that 1 out of 88 children age 8 will have an ASD, Males are four times more likely to have an ASD than females.
Signs and Systems of Autism
- Impaired Social Interaction. A child with ASD may be unresponsive to people or focus closely on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time. A child with ASD may emerge to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
- Fails to respond to name
- Avoid eye contact
- Shows not to hear you at times
- Resists cuddling and holding
- Appears unaware of others’ feelings
- Seems to prefer playing alone — retreats into his or her own world
- Does not ask for help or request things·
Difficulty in interpreting what others are thinking or Feeling. These children may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people. They cannot comprehend social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and do not watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.
May engage in repetitive movements. The repetitive behavior could be a simple hop-skip-jump from one end of the room to the other, repeated again and again for one, five, or ten minutes – o r even longer. A child with autism likes predictability.
Inability to communicate or interact.
- Does not speak or has delayed speech
- Loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences
- Doesn’t make eye contact when making requests
- Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm, they may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
- Rocking, hand flapping or other movements
- Not paying attention to things the child sees or hears
- Problems dealing with changes in routine
- Using objects in unusual ways
- Unusual attachments to objects
- No fear of real dangers
- Being either very sensitive or not sensitive enough to touch, light, or sounds (e.g.,disliking loud sounds or only responding when sounds are very loud; also called a sensory integration disorder)
- Feeding difficulties (accepting only select foods, refusing certain food textures)
- Sleep problems
Causes of Autism.
New research indicates that environmental factors may be important in the development of autism. Neurological and Genetic factors were previosly believed to the cause of autism.
Diagnosis of Autism
Autism varies widely in severity, making a diagnosis may be difficult. There isn’t a specific medical test to determine the disorder.
- Observe your child and ask how your child’s social skills, language skills and behavior have developed and changed over time
- Give your child developmental tests covering speech, language, developmental level, and social and behavioral issues
- Present structured social and communication interactions to your child and score the performance
Physicians will frequently use a questionnaire or other screening instrument to gather information about a child’s development and behavior. Some screening instruments rely solely on parent observations, while others rely on a combination of parent and doctor observations. If screening instruments indicate the possibility of an ASD, a more comprehensive evaluation is usually indicated. A comprehensive evaluation requires a multidisciplinary team, including a psychologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, speech therapist, and other professionals who diagnose children with ASDs. The team members will conduct a thorough neurological assessment and in-depth cognitive and language testing.
Treatment of Autism
1. 1. Diet. Humans need certain essential nutrients for their bodies to function, including Vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids (from protein). A balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, protein, and certain fats is important to help provide those key nutrients.
Food Allergy. Many children with autism have food sensitivities, due to abnormalities in their digestive and/or immune systems. If food is not fully digested into individual sugars, amino acids, etc., then the partly digested food can cause the immune system in the gut to react to those foods. This reaction is much more likely to occur if there is inflammation of the gut.
3. Vitamins and Minerals. Vitamins and minerals can have a potent effect on body function and behavior, so start at a low dose (1/10 of that below) and then gradually increasing over 3 4 weeks. Iron should be added only if a test indicates a need for iron this is a common problem in children under
5 years. Low iron is a leading cause of mental retardation.
4. Vitamin B6 with Magnesium. 30-40% of children and adults with autism benefited from high dose supplementation of vitamin B6 with magnesium.
5. Essential Fatty Acids. They exist in the cell membrane of
every cell, and roughly 20% of an infant’s brain is composed of essential fatty acids. Mother’s milk is very rich in essential fatty acids, but some infant formulas lack this key ingredient needed for brain development. Two general categories of essential fatty acids are omega -3 and omega-6. Studies have found that children with autism have lower levels of omega–3 fatty acids than the general population.
6. Digestive Enzymes. Different enzymes are needed for different types of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Children with autism sometimes have low levels of certain enzymes, or less active enzymes, or both. Take a digestive enzyme with each meal, usually at the start of the meal. Use enzymes that are as complete as possible.
7. Gut Bacteria. Most of gut bacteria are beneficial, helping with food digestion and water balance, producing some vitamins, and limiting the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast. One of the most striking differences in the medical history of children with autism is that several studies have reported much higher use of oral antibiotics (usually for ear infections) in infancy of children with autism compared to controls. These oral antibiotics will destroy most of the beneficial gut bacteria, and thus increase the risk of overgrowth of harmful bacteria and/or yeast. Yeast feed on sugar and simple carbohydrates, so reducing or avoiding those foods is important.
8. Carnitine. Carnitine is important for energy production to fuel the body and the brain. Carnitine can be made by the body to a limited extent, but much of it comes from our diet, especially beef and pork. People who eat limited amounts of beef and pork are at higher risk of carnitine deficiency. Carnitine is widely used as an over – the – counter nutritional supplement, and it is also available by prescription. Carnitine is available as both l carnitine and acetyl-l-carnitine.Both forms are useful sources of carnitine, and the body can convert them to one another. Acetyl-l-carnitine form is more beneficial due to the acetyl group, which can help make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. Acetyl-l-carnitine has also been found to be neuroprotective.
9. Melatonin. Many children and adults with autism have sleep problems; Melatonin is the hormone the body naturally produces at nighttime to regulate sleep. It is formed from the neurotransmitter serotonin, so low serotonin levels can cause low melatonin levels. Melatonin production is reduced by light, and even a simple nightlight can greatly decrease melatonin production. So, first try eliminating all sources of light. For problems falling asleep, first try a behavioral approach, including a regular nighttime routine If sleep problems persist, start with melatonin
10. Thyroid Treatment. Poor thyroid function due to lack of
iodine is the major cause of mental retardation in the world, Iodine is required for normal thyroid functioning, If iodine levels are low, then one can begin with iodine supplementation. If that does not normalize thyroid levels, then one can consider thyroid supplements.