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Posts tagged ‘Autism’


by Logan

What is Autism? Part Two

In Part One we looked at  What Autism is.  Today we will look at the causes, the diagnosis, and the management of Autism. We will also look at how Autism is trending. I was surprised to learn what I did.

Remember – Autism is a Development Disorder and the symptoms are important to know. Symptoms will help us more than we can realize.

Causes of Autism

For years it has been believed that there is a common cause at the genetic level causing cognitive changes, symptoms and others.

As time moves forward, the pool becomes even murkier.  It is becoming apparent that a very complex set of aspects occur that is multi-focal.

There must be a genetic component but it is unclear if a mutation is to blame or heritable factors, or even gene expression.

Environmental causes are also being and have been explored.

Such causes may be:

1.)    Infectious disease
2.)    Metals
3.)    Diesels
4.)    Phenols
5.)    Drugs
6.)    Vaccines
7.)    Prenatal stress
8.)    and much more.

****No specific link has been found for Autism and vaccines though this is largely disputed depending on which side of the argument you are on.

Screening for Autism

When a parent becomes concerned about a possible Autism diagnosis – a screening tool can be used. It doesn’t always work and in some cases, can cause additional concern. But for the most part, it is a good rule to know.

50% of parents notice a change in behavior by age 18 months

80% of parents notice a change in behavior by age 24 months.

Screening pattern that should indicate concern – this does not mean Autism is the cause.  But this should generate a concern.

1.)     No babbling by around 12 months
2.)     No pointing or waving bye- bye around 12 months
3.)     No single word by around 16 months
4.)     No two word sentences or phrases by around 24 months
5.)     Any loss of previously seen language or social skills at any age.

Diagnosis

Autism is a very difficult and concerning diagnosis.

In many cases, concern about a false diagnosis leads to a diagnosis that comes later than it could.   Diagnosis is done on a perceptual behavior concern.  There is not a blood test or X-ray that shows Autism.

A multitude of symptoms must be considered.

Initially, the data of the above screening along with physical examination will help point the provider in the right direction. It is possible that an Autistic specialist will also be called in to see the child and to talk with the parents.

Management of Autism

Management is really the key for everything when it comes to Autism.  The rest are things that will happen sooner or later.

But management is something that can really help the child. A cure should not be the goal in mind when thinking of an Autistic child.  Management though, helps the child in many different areas.

No single treatment or management will work in all cases. The management process should be based on the child’s need.

Behavior therapy early can help the children as they grow learn self-care, job skills, social behaviors and much more.

A one-on-one teaching is helpful for the child who may have difficulty learning in a large setting.  Speech and language therapy can help many children in improving their communication skills and helping them to adapt to their condition.

Occupational Therapy helps them to learn to use their body and how they can perform daily living, cooking, cleaning, and other tasks.

Overall

Remember that Autism severity is a spectrum.  Some children will have such serious problems, speaking and normal activities are out of the question. Others have such a minor symptoms that you may not ever know that it was Autism but you may think rather a learning disability or less.  Many are somewhere in between.

Children do recover on their own and are no longer considered Autistic. But that is extremely rare and is not what should be considered a cure.  Improvement is seen after treatment or without.  Little is really known why this happens.

Some children may grow up and are able to live on their own and hold down good jobs. Often the social support, friends, and family are very instrumental.

For an unknown reason, Autism rates are increasing.  Around 1996 it was less than 1 per 1,000 children was found to have Autism.  As of 2007 – that rate increased to over 5 per 1,000 and that number has certainly increased in the last few years.  It may also be as high as 11 per 1,000 now.  Boys seem to have a higher risk than girls.

This could be a lack of adequate data over the decade and a half of diagnosis Autism.  This could easily be explained as stat error.  But others are thinking that a combination of environmental and genetic predominance is the real reason we are seeing an increase.

 

In the end, we need to be more mindful of the diagnosis and the possibility with the children in our lives. School teachers, parents, friends, and more need to have a better understanding of Autism. Early management is a real key to a more productive life.


by Logan

What is Autism? Part One

This is the first part of this series on Autism. Today we are going to talk about What Autism is.  Since it is such a broad category and the symptoms are very important to understand. This is where we will spend our time today.  In Part Two we will look at the causes, the diagnosis, and the management of Autism.

 

Autism has been a word that has been used in the media so much over the past several years. But do you really know what Autism is?  Are your children at risk of getting Autism and is Autism on the rise?  These are great questions.  Now let’s take a look.

Autism is a Development Disorder

Really this is means a neurodevelopment disorder.

On a basic level, autism is a behavioral issue.  You will notice that children with this condition have difficulty functioning with other children. The problem is that there is a large range of symptoms. You may not even know that someone has Autism because their symptoms may be very mild.

It often deals with the repetitive movements or restricted social behaviors. Both can be seen in some degree.

It can become seen in children during infancy or during childhood.  Often, changes are seen between six months of age and three years. Though changes can really be seen at any age.

There is not one symptom that defines this disease. It is more of a collection of symptoms or evaluations.

Main Symptoms

1.)     Problems with Social Interactions

This may mean that the child doesn’t react in a social setting as other children do. They may have less stimuli with other children.

They may smile less often than expected and they may avoid eye contact or have limited eye contact.  In some cases, pointing at things may be a problem.

They may avoid talking with other children or a normal quizzical behavior. They prefer to be left alone, but not always.

Speech is often affected. Sentence structure or communication is a problem.

Babbling, slow speech, confused speech, unrecognizable gestures, voice pattern changes, screaming, and other speech problems can be seen.

2.)     Repetitive Behavior

Several types of repetitive behaviors can be seen.  No one child may have all the repetitive behavior or the exact behavior seen. But often, a similar or exact behavior can be identified.

Hand flapping or banging occurs often.  Head rolling to one side or the other. This happens over and over again as if a game.  A large percentage of the time, the child will rock their body back and forth. It could be torso, head, arms, or legs. Often though, it is the entire body.

They may arrange items according to size, color, lines,

Also seen is a desire to have a pattern in their day.  This means that they prefer the same chores, processes to get ready for the day and more.

An aspect of Repetitive behavior that can become a real problem is self-injury.  This happens repetitively.  They will start biting their hand over and over again. They can also bang their head again and again.

This can also be seen with picking of skin, poking an eye, kicking a foot.

These self-injuries behaviors seem to affect just under fifty percent of those with Autism.

3.)     Restricted Interests

There is a sense of sameness. This means that there is a huge resistance to change. This can be seen in changing schools, vacations, moving, or even day to day things like where furniture is positioned in the room and other more basic things.

Preoccupation is another thing that is seen. This means that their attention gets grabbed by a certain object, toy, game, or television program.  They become so preoccupied that they only want that toy or object. They lose focus or interest in other things for a period.

4.)     Others

This area is far more difficult.  Often it is difficult to say that a particular behavior is or isn’t an aspect of Autism. It could be just something they are going through at the time, or something unique to the child.

Abilities – this area is not a given. Some children with less affecting autism may have some ability. It is estimated to affect somewhere between 1 percent and 10 percent of those with Autism.  A sub category of Autism is Asperger’s. Abilities are found liked with this diagnosis in some cases.

An ability could be memorization, math extraordinaire,  musical instrument, and many other rare talents. In many cases these individuals are called Savants.

Other symptoms may include: muscle loss, difficulty walking, unusual eating patterns, stomach problems, and others.

 

Classification

Autism falls under the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders or PDD.

There are five disorders

1.)     Autism
2.)     Asperger Syndrome
3.)     Rett Syndrome
4.)     Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
5.)     PDD not otherwise specified

Stay tune to Part Two to look at:  the causes, the diagnosis, and the management of Autism.