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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Autism


What Is Autism?


Autism is a developmental disorder that some people are born with - it's not something you can catch" or pass along to someone else. It affects the brain and makes communicating and interacting with other people difficult. People who have autism often have delayed language development, prefer to spend time alone, and show less interest in making friends। Another characteristic of autism is what some people describe as "sensory overload": sounds seem louder, lights brighter, or smells stronger। Although many people with autism also have mental retardation, some are of average or high intelligence।
Not everybody with Autism has the exact same symptoms। Some people may have Autism that is mild, whereas others may have autism that is more severe। Because it affects people differently, autism is known as a spectrum disorder। Two people with the same spectrum disorder may not act alike or have the same skills।
As many as one in 500 people have Autism, and it's four times more common in guys than in girls। Although doctors do not know exactly what causes it, researchers believe autism is linked to differences in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). These differences may be caused by something in our genes - families who have one child with autism have a higher risk of having another child with autism or a similar disorder. Research suggests that it's probably a combination of genes that causes the disorder, not a single "autism gene."
There are other developmental disorders mentioned in the same context as autism, such as Asperger's disorder, Rett syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder। These disorders, along with autism, are all considered pervasive developmental disorders. People diagnosed with any of these disabilities have problems with social skills and communication.
What do doctors do?
Autism is usually diagnosed at a very young age, when a child is 1 1/2 to 4 years old. There are no medical tests to determine whether someone has autism, although doctors may run various tests to rule out other diagnoses। So the best way to identify autism is to watch how a child behaves and communicates. Parents can help by telling the doctor how the child acts at home. Then a team of specialists - which may include a psychologist, a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a speech therapist, and a developmental pediatrician - will evaluate the child and compare levels of development and behavior to those of other children the same age. Together, they will make a diagnosis.How is Autism treated?Autism is not treated with medicine or surgery. Instead, people who have autism are taught skills that will help them do the things that are difficult for them.The best results are usually seen with children who begin interventions when they are very young, as soon as they are diagnosed. Special education programs that are tailored to the child's individual needs are usually the most effective form of treatment. These programs work on breaking down barriers by teaching the child to communicate (sometimes by pointing or using pictures or sign language) and to interact with others. Basic living skills, like how to cross a street safely or ask for directions, are also emphasized. A treatment program might also include any of the following: speech therapy, physical therapy, music therapy, changes in diet, medication, occupational therapy, and hearing or vision therapy. The same specialists who helped diagnose the condition usually work together to come up with the best combination of therapies to supplement the educational program.

1 comment:

Raghu said...

I had heard about Autism before but did not exactly know what it was. Thanks for covering the topic in detail.
Very informative!