What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum refers to a range of conditions in which patients find challenges with social skills, repetitive behavior, non-verbal communication and speech. There are many different types of autism caused due to genetic and environmental influences. The term spectrum, as it suggests, is a spectrum of challenges and strengths a person with autism faces. Most obvious signs of autism occur around the age of 2 and 3. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months!
People with autism may also have unusual sensory interests such as sniffing certain objects or even staring at moving objects for a very long time. Patients also avoid everyday sounds and textures, such as hair dryers and vacuum cleaners. In majority of patients, autism causes intellectual impairments and learning difficulties.
Number of Autistic People
Autism affects around 1 in 100 people around the word. In the United Kingdom, over 700,000 people are autistic. In Australia, 230,000 Australians are affected by autism- A crazy number for a disorder that was once considered rare in the country!
The numbers in the United States are even more staggering with over 1.5 million people in the US having an autism spectrum disorder.
Cause of Autism
Autism is generally caused due to abnormalities in the brain structure or function. The exact reason why this disorder is caused is unknown, however evidence suggests that heredity, genetics and medical problems (fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, congenital rubella syndrome and untreated phenylketonuria (PKU)) play an important role. Ingesting harmful substance during pregnancy can also increase the risk.
Is There a Cure?
Behavioral therapy, medication or a combination of both is used to diagnose autism. It is important to know that there is no cure for autism, however its symptoms can be reduced with the right intervention.
Therapies That May Help
- Anger Management
- Family Therapy
- Behavioural Therapy
- Sensory Processing
- Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
Support of family plays an important role, it is essential for parents and care takers to provide full assistance to their children.
Edited by: Keerthana Suresh