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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behaviour. Males are four times more likely to have an ASD than females. A recent study in US found 1 in 68 children suffering from autism.
What are some common signs of autism?
The hall feature of ASD is impaired social interaction. As early as infancy, a baby with ASD may be unresponsive to people or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time. A child with ASD may appear to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
Children with an ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people. They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behaviour. They lack empathy.
Many children with an ASD engage in repetitive movements such as rocking, or self-abusive behaviour such as biting or head-banging. They also tend to start speaking later than other children. Children with an ASD don’t know how to play interactively with other children. Some speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favourite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to whom they are speaking.
Children with characteristics of an ASD may have co-occurring conditions, including Fragile X syndrome (which causes mental retardation), tuberous sclerosis, epileptic seizures, Tourette syndrome, learning disabilities, and attention deficit disorder. About 20 to 30 percent of children with an ASD develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood.
How is autism diagnosed?
Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:
• no babbling or pointing by age 1
• no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
• no response to name
• loss of language or social skills
• poor eye contact
• excessive lining up of toys or objects
• No smiling or social responsiveness.
If you find any of these features in your child, please consult the local pediatrician or child neurologist if available who can assess your child in detail. There is no single blood test to diagnose autism. However, the doctor needs to look into certain disorders in which children have similar features or having features of autism in addition to other signs of that disorder. E.g. Tuber sclerosis, Landau-kleffner syndrome (a form of Epilpesy), other childhood epilepsies, some metabolic and genetic disease. So your doctor may do some blood test, hearing assessment, EEG, etc. depending upon the presenting features and assessment.
What role does inheritance play?
Twin and family studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism. Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected, there is up to a 90 percent chance the other twin will be affected. In families with one child with ASD, the risk of having a second child with the disorder is approximately 5 percent, or one in 20. This is greater than the risk for the general population.
Do symptoms of autism change over time?
For many children, symptoms improve with treatment and with age. Children whose language skills regress early in life (before the age of 3) appear to have a higher than normal risk of developing epilepsy or seizure-like brain activity. During adolescence, some children with an ASD may become depressed or experience behavioural problems, and their treatment may need some modification as they transition to adulthood. People with an ASD usually continue to need services and supports as they get older, but many are able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment.
How is autism managed?
There is no cure for ASDs. However, it is important to diagnose it early and look for associated conditions like ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactive disorder), Epilepsy, sleep disorders, etc. Earlier is intervention, better is the outcome. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can bring about substantial improvement. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of individual children.
Educational/behavioural interventions: Therapists use highly structured and intensive skill-oriented training sessions to help children develop social and language skills, such as Applied Behavioural Analysis. Family counselling for the parents and siblings of children with an ASD often helps families cope with the particular challenges of living with a child with an ASD.
Medications: Doctors may prescribe medications for treatment of specific autism-related symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Antipsychotic medications are used to treat severe behavioural problems. Seizures can be treated with one or more anticonvulsant drugs. Medication used to treat people with attention deficit disorder can be used effectively to help decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Other therapies: There are a number of controversial therapies or interventions available, but few, if any, are supported by scientific studies. Parents should use caution before adopting any unproven treatments. Although dietary interventions have been helpful in some children, parents should be careful that their child’s nutritional status is carefully followed.
Conclusion: Autism is seen commonly now a day. The main features are delayed speech, poor eye contact and social interaction and restricted interest with repetitive behaviour. Parents and physician should aware of its early symptoms so that early intervention can be started.
I am a 57 yrs old male & diabetic. Feeling acute numbness at the side of both the thighs. What do I do? please help.
My daughter 5 years old fell from bed while sleeping. Having injury bump on the head. It is past 3 days. Looks like blood clot in the black color. Still not recovered to normal skin. What to do?
Hi, I am 32 years old. I have been going through a problem, which I don't know whether its because of my negligence or due to some financial problems, couldn't get it diagnosed properly. I always feel like fainting. My head is so heavy and can't stand properly. My legs keep on shivering. Can't bear the high volumes and always in a discomfort zone. I request you to please let me know the possible cause of this problem.
Dear sir, From one month I had head tingling and numbness in hand and legs, I contact doctor he told me it was anxiety and given some tablets, but it won't help me. May I know how long it will take to cure, it was big problem, please suggest me.
Epilepsy is a disease that affects the brain's nerve cells and triggers the release of abnormal electrical signals. This can cause temporary malfunctioning of the other brain cells and result in sudden loss of consciousness. Epilepsy can affect both children and adults.
Epilepsy can be treated in a number of ways. One of the most preferred forms of treatment is homeopathy. Homeopathy addresses both the physical symptoms of the disease and the underlying factors triggering it. Another big advantage of homeopathic treatment is that it has negligible side effects.
A few homeopathic remedies that can be used to treat epilepsy are:
- Cicuta: Cicuta is very effective when used to treat cases of epilepsy where convulsions are marked by violent, body distortions. This can include the horrific backward bending of the spine (learn about the exercises for spine). These convulsions also make the person's face turn blue and trigger a locked jaw. This can also be used to effectively treat epilepsy cases triggered by head injuries and worms.
- Artemisia Vulgaris: This is used to often treat cases of Petit Mal Epilepsy which are characterized by staring into space, leaning forwards or backwards and stopping a sentence abruptly. It also addresses fear that triggers epileptic attacks.
- Stramonium: Convulsions triggered by exposure to bright lights or shiny objects can be treated with this homeopathic remedy. In such cases, the patient may not lose consciousness but experiences jerks in the muscles of the upper body.
- Cuprum Met: This homeopathic remedy is used to treat seizures that are preceded by experiencing an aura in the knees (know more about the Causes and Symptoms of Knee Pain). Other symptoms that characterize this sort of an epileptic attack are spasms that begin in the fingers and toes and gradually spread to the rest of the body and jerking of muscles. This can also be used to treat convulsions that accompany menstruation and follow the delivery of a baby.
- Bufo Rana: Not all epileptic attacks occur you are awake. Attacks that occur in your sleep can be treated with bufo rana. Such epileptic attacks are accompanied by experiencing an aura in the genital regions. This is especially helpful for women who experience seizures during menstruation.
- Hyoscyamus: Some epileptic fits are followed by a deep sleep. This type of epileptic attacks can be treated with Hyoscyamus. Other symptoms addresses by this homeopathic medicine are fidgeting with bed clothes, fidgeting with fingers and muscular twitching.
These homeopathic remedies can be taken on their own or in combination with other medicines.