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Autism is not a Disease

  • Geetha Subramaniam

People who are on the autism spectrum are often misunderstood. While the common belief is that those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not smart or can’t have successful life, this couldn’t be more wrong. In Hollywood, there are a handful of celebrities who are on the spectrum and have found success. When we think about famous physicians and scientists, who have made the revolutionary changes in the world of modern physics Albert Einstein is surely one that comes to mind. He had a number of characteristics have led to conclusions that he appears somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Firstly, he had difficulties in social interactions especially as an adult. As a child, he experienced severe speech delays and later echolalia or the habit of repeating sentences to himself. And of course his day dreaming nature and family history showed the signs of autism among relatives. He was quite sensitive about his personal life. Right from his school days, he even had a hard time learning new things which the normal kids could easily grasp up.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life due to neurological disorder that affects the function of the brain. Autism affects the normal development of the brain in the areas of communication skills and exhibit difficulties in social interactions as well as in verbal and or verbal communication. Because of the range of symptoms, this condition is now called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It covers a large spectrum of symptoms, skills and levels of impairment.

There are three types on the autism spectrum disorder. Firstly, autistic disorder which is usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, unusual behaviours and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have an intellectual disability. Asperger’s syndrome is the second type of autism. People with Asperger’s syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have some challenges and unusual behaviours and interests, in addition to social challenges. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability. The third type of autism is Pervasive Developmental Disorder(PDD). This type is typically reserved for those who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger’s syndrome but not all of them. Those affected with PDD experience milder symptoms or fewer symptoms. Those with PDD only suffer from social and communication challenges. These people tend to be the highest-functioning autistic types and simply do not fit into any of the other categories or types of autism spectrum disorders.

Autism spectrum disorder can be diagnosed early in infancy. Interestingly, there are many individuals who may have ASD but are never aware of it. Though the exact cause for autism is unknown, genetics plays an important part. An Environmental, immunological and metabolic factors may have contributing role. A person with an Autism disorder syndrome might have symptoms of delayed speech, language skills, not respond to their names by 12 months, avoid eye contact and want to be alone, repeat words or phrase over and over (echolalia), give unrelated answers to question, get upset by minor changes, have obsessive interests, have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel. In addition to autism spectrum disorder they also experience medical health issues such as epilepsy, sleep disorders, limited food preferences or stomach problems.

There is no cure for ASDs. The most effective treatments involve early and intensive behavioural interventions. The goal of treatment is to maximize the child’s ability to function by reducing autism spectrum disorder symptoms and supporting development and learning. Early intervention during the preschool years can help the child learn critical social, communication, functional and behavioural skills. Occupational therapy plays an important role for autism kids. This kind of treatment helps the child learn life skills involve fine motor movements such us feeding, dressing, using utensils, bathing, writing and understanding how to relate to other people. OT works to improve the individual’s quality of life and ability to participate fully in daily activities. The skills they learn meant to help them live as independently as they can.

On top of that, getting proper nutrition is important for children with autism spectrum disorders. Sometimes kids with ASD restrict their food or their parents try eliminating things like gluten to see if it helps symptoms improve their behaviour, there is no conclusive study on this, however, filling kids with sweets and chocolates to pacify them and manage their behaviour can be detrimental. Kids with autism spectrum disorder tend to have thinner bones than kids without it, so bone building foods are important as well. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to treat some of the symptoms or conditions associated with ASD for example sleeping problems, depression, epilepsy or aggressive and challenging behaviour such as tantrums or self -harming. Each person on the autism spectrum is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. So, it is important to create a personalized autism treatment plan according to his or her individual needs.

Autism


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