Recent years have seen an increase in the understanding of this health condition. By recognizing the symptoms early, getting treatment and establishing proper care becomes possible.
One of the most conspicuous symptoms is not speaking; those who do only say a single word. In most cases the child may repeat a phrase or word he or she has heard. Another major sign is limited interest. Instead of playing with other kids, they just repeat the simple actions of people around them.
Aside from repeating patterns and phrases, these children are prone to screaming fits and twiddling of fingers. They may rock back and forth and drool. Other symptoms include biting their fingers or hitting their heads against the wall. Some gouge at their own eyes. Some cry or laugh for no discernible reason.
The best way of diagnosing is to observe the child’s behavior. The behavior mentioned earlier will be watched out for. Other signs to look for include inability or refusal to play with others or making conversation.
Diagnosis may take a long time because the symptoms vary. Some kids don’t have any problems with language. But they exhibit the behavior mentioned earlier.
Some children may show extreme interest in a particular object. Others might act as if there is nothing there at all. These are opposing characteristics yet both are symptoms of the health condition.
The varying symptoms mean no single therapy will work. The treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. If there is problem with speaking, speech therapy will be needed. If there is problem with seeing or observing things, special training will be conducted. Some treatments consist of music and language.
In most educational and behavioral therapy, rewards are given to the child. Giving their favorite food or toy for speaking a word properly helps set proper behavior. Doctors recommend that treatment start as early as possible. The sooner treatment begins, the more responsive the child becomes.
Treatment works best in organized settings. There are special training centers, but treatment can be done at home. About 20% suffer from epilepsy, so medication is given. Stimulants, anti-depressants and ophiate blockers may be prescribed. Tranquilizers and antipsychotics are given if needed.
Giving large amounts of vitamin B6 helps these kids with their eye contact and language. This vitamin has been known to reduce tantrum spells too.
One theory is that the condition arises from brain disorders. In particular, the neurotransmitters are affected. The disorder affects the part associated with sensory perception. Some researchers believe that the condition is genetic in origin.
It’s not certain if the condition is hereditary. But some relatives of autistics exhibit similar behaviors. Sometimes the condition is brought about by a disease like rubella. Other possible causes are encephalitis, phenylketonuria or other brain disorders.
Only further research will determine the actual cause. But a lot of advances have been made, and treatment of autism continues to get better. Today these children can grow into adults and function in society.