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Kids with Autism

The Mayo Clinic staff from MayoClinic.Com and KidswithAutismCan.Org defines autism as a group of serious developmental problems called autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which appear in early childhood before the age of three. ASD is one of the five pervasive development disorders (PDD) of the brain characterized by a wide variety of abnormalities of social interaction, communication, lack of creative or interactive play, and highly repetitive behavior. Symptoms and severity varies and all autism disorders affect the child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. We see that there’s an increase in children with autism each year. It’s not clear whether this is due to better detection and reporting of autism, a real increase in the number of cases, or both. At this time there is no cure for autism, however, there is treatment available. Early treatments, such as behavioral/communication/educational therapies, can make a big difference in the lives of many children with the disorder.

Children with autism view and experience the world differently than a normal child would because they have difficulty socializing and expressing their feelings. These children usually stay to themselves and many are unable to communicate without special help. The child’s brain has trouble making sense of the world, which makes it very difficult to understand and function normally. The brain is meant to interpret and establish meaning of all the sights, sounds, smells, and touch but an autistic child’s brain is not developed properly and this affects the senses. There is no single known cause of autism, but both genetic and environmental factors play a part. Here are some common symptoms that are seen in children with autism that is provided by the Mayo Clinic staff:

Social skills

  • Fails to respond to his or her name
  • Has poor eye contact
  • Appears 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”

Language

  • Starts talking later than age 2, and has other developmental delays by 30 months
  • Loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences
  • Doesn’t make eye contact when making requests
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
  • Can’t start a conversation or keep one going
  • May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn’t understand how to use them

Behavior

  • Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping
  • Develops specific routines or rituals
  • Becomes disturbed at the slightest change in routines or rituals
  • Moves constantly
  • May be fascinated by parts of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car
  • May be unusually sensitive to light, sound and touch and yet oblivious to pain

Some of the risk factors associated with autism are the sex of the child, family history, current medical conditions (tuberous sclerosis, Tourette syndrome, and epilepsy), and older parents; especially those of older moms with autism. In order for your child to be diagnosed with this type of disorder a series of test have to be performed. A child who is diagnosed has to meet the symptom criteria as stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The child must also have six or more of the following symptoms as stated above and two or more of these symptoms must fall under the social skills category. Treatment options include behavior and communication therapy, educational therapy, creative therapy (art and music), special diets, and certain medications (antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs). As always take one step at a time; baby steps. Find trustworthy medical professionals, seek out support, learn as much as you can about the disorder, and educate all family members about caring for a child with autism.

Reference:

KidsHealth.Org (2008). Autism. Kids Health from Nemours: The Nemours Foundation. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/brain/autism.html#

KidsWithAutismCan.Org (2011). Defining autism. Kids with Autism Can. Retrieved from http://kidswithautismcan.org/be-informed/defining-autism/

May Clinic Staff (2010). Autism. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/autism/DS00348

 

Information on this site is intended for Angel Kids Pediatrics patients only. Always consult your doctor before beginning, modifying, or discontinuing any treatment plan.

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