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Autism Treatments

Autism is a developmental disorder that is one among the many autism spectrum disorders or ASDs. The condition is characterized by impaired speech and social interaction problems. Autism is treated with the help of therapy and dedicated medication.
Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects verbal and nonverbal communication and takes a toll on routine activities and interests. The actual cause of autism is not yet clear. Research is still on to determine the roles of genetics and environment. There is evidence that a number of genes are associated with the disorder. People with autism display irregularities in several brain regions and abnormal serotonin levels and neurotransmitters. Genetic predisposition to the condition is also being researched upon. Autism has three distinctive behavior patterns that characterize the condition. Depending on the stage and treatment, the behavior can range from mild to disabling. Autistic children display difficulties with:
  • Regular social interaction.
  • Communication.
  • Restrictive and obsessive interests.
Symptoms

There are certain hallmark features of autism. They include:
  • Impaired social interaction.
  • Unresponsive reaction to people.
  • Intense focus on any one object or person.
  • Indifference to social engagements.
  • Indifferent response to name and eye contact.
  • Poor understanding of social cues like tone of voice or expression.
  • Repetitive movements.
  • Self-abusive behavior.
  • Inability to play interactively.
  • Little regard for the interests of others.
  • Reduced sensitivity to pain.
  • Abnormal sensitivity to touch and sound.
  • Resistance to being cuddled or petted.
Children with different types of autism inherit a higher risk of contracting health deteriorating physical illnesses like tuberous sclerosis, epileptic seizures, learning disabilities, Tourette syndrome and attention deficit disorder. They are more likely to develop epilepsy prior to adulthood. Autism varies in symptoms and severity and hence, the disorders of autism spectrum go unrecognized for a long period of time. The debilitating handicaps make it mandatory for doctors to rely on core behavior patterns for the timely diagnosis of autism. The usual signs that doctors look for are:
  • Inability to make friends easily.
  • Inability to initiate conversations or be an active contributor to a verbal interaction.
  • Impaired ability to brainstorm or be imaginative.
  • Predictable and repetitive use of language.
  • Inability to focus on a subject.
Diagnosis of the condition is done with the help of medical intervention and questioning, with or without the help of a screening instrument. The main aim is to assimilate information on development and behavior.

Treatments and Remedies

Autism is a disorder that requires the combined effort of a psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist and speech therapist to diagnose the stage of the condition. A treatment plan is generated only after a thorough neurological, cognitive and language assessment. There is no complete cure for autism. There are a number of special therapies and behavioral interventions that are designed to address specific manifestations of the condition. Educational and behavioral interventions involve intensive, structured training sessions that target the development of language and social skills. These interventions have a separate segment for family counseling. Medications such as antidepressants help to address anxiety and depression, while antipsychotic medications are administered to address behavioral problems. Doctors also recommend anticonvulsant drugs for seizures and stimulants to treat attention deficit disorder or ADD.

There are a number of biomedical research centers dedicated to research on the human brain and nervous system disorders. Autism research comprises the study of basic clinical findings and readings of:
  • Neurotransmitter serotonin connections.
  • Computer-assisted programs used to interpret behavior.
  • Brain imaging investigations.
  • Clinical records on medication and counseling results.
Autism may not be clinically treatable, depending on the stage, but it is important to be aware that the intensity of the condition is greatly reduced with the help of medical intervention. Parent support and that of the whole community plays a very important role in the early integration of these children within the 'normal' fold.
By Gaynor Borade
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