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Last Updated: Nov 16, 2020
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Autism: Symptoms, Causes, Test, Treatment And Cure

About Types Symptoms Causes Precautions Risk Factors Diagnosis Therapy Medicine Cure Prevention Reversal Diet Home Remedies

What is Autism?

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability which affects an individual’s ability to communicate and express themselves, understand the behaviour and expression of others and have impaired social skills. People suffering from this condition have trouble interacting with healthy individuals and the society in general.

They cannot express themselves normally through words or actions, and often develop unusual repetitive behaviours. It is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, because it does not denote a single condition but is actually a term for a variety of conditions.

Autism is also defined as a nuero behavioral condition, meaning that it is a behavioural disorder caused by the brain inability to process emotions and understanding.

What are the different types of autism?

As talked by some experts recently, there are three different types of autism which include Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive development disorder. Now they all have been clubbed under one single name known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Still, when people knew them with different names, the older terms mean:

  • Autistic Disorder It is also known as classic autism. It is mostly perceived by people when someone talks about autism. People who suffer from autistic disorders usually tend to delay in language, face social and communication challenges and portray unusual interests and behaviours. Autistic Disorder victims may also portray intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Development Disorder It sometimes is also called atypical autism or PDD-NOS. People who portray some criteria of autistic disorder and some of Asperger’s syndrome, but not completely from any of the two are thought to be diagnosed with atypical autism. The symptoms of this are fewer and milder than the autistic disorder.
  • Asperger’S Syndrome Asperger’s Syndrome usually shows milder symptoms of autistic disorder. However, people with Asperger’s syndrome might face social challenges and portray unusual interests and behaviours. However, they do not possess any language problem or intellectual disability.

What are the Symptoms of Autism?

Some patients may showcase only few or all of these behaviours or some may display none of it.

  • Children who do not respond when called by their names
  • Lack of interest in activities that normal children are interested in, such as playing with other children, befriending other kids.
  • Avoiding eye contact while talking with parents or strangers
  • Delay in developing normal speech
  • Speaking in a monotonous or robotic tone
  • Children who don't talk very often and prefer being alone
  • Repeating a behaviour regularly, like a certain motion of hands or rocking the body.
  • Cannot understand and respond to slightly complex question or instructions
  • Getting irritated over minor things
  • Infants who don't show expressions and gestures, do not make sounds and speak in baby-language by 24 months of age.

What Causes Autism?

Scientists and researchers have confirmed that autism is a result of abnormal functioning of the brain and its ability to process thoughts, expression and behaviour.

However, the exact causes of autism have not yet been identified. There are some studies that suggest that this condition may be caused by genetic factors. But this has not been fully confirmed. At present, the cause of autism is still a subject of study and research.

What are the Precautions For Autism?

Since the cause of autism is currently unknown, so there are no guidelines for preventing autism. But there are a few factors that parents can follow to try and prevent their autism from affecting their children, such as:

  • Proper care during pregnancy, which means avoiding drugs and medications that are not suitable for pregnant women, not smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle and getting proper care and treatment for any disease that is affecting an individual.
  • People who follow these guidelines cannot guarantee that their children will not be affected by autism. Also, if a child is diagnosed with autism, then certain precautions must be taken to ensure their safety. These include:
  • Kids and teenagers with autism must be continuously monitored. It is not safe to leave them alone for long hours.
  • Children and young adults with autism are likely to elope or run away from safe environments. Parents must take care that their children do not get such opportunities.
  • Neighbours, children, and any other people who interact with individuals suffering from autism must be informed about the condition. They should be educated about how to behave with people who are suffering from autism.
  • The symptoms and behaviours caused by autism vary greatly among individuals. Parents need to study and observe the behaviours and thought process of their children to prevent them from putting themselves in harmful situations.

Risk Factors for Autism Spectrum Disorders

No exact cause of autism has been found until yet. Nevertheless, some risk factors can be seen that could be a reason for autism. Some of the risk factors are:

  • Genetic
  • Exposure to environmental toxins and heavy metals
  • Being born to old parents
  • Having an immediate family member with autism.
  • Fragile X syndrome or other genetic disorders
  • Fatal exposure to the medications, valproic acids or thalidomide
  • Metabolic imbalances
  • History of viral infections
  • Low birth weight

National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) says that both genetics and environment are the base of chances for a person to suffer from autism.

How Autism is Diagnosed?

As the cause of autism is not known, so there aren't any medical tests and examinations that can diagnose autism in individuals. Diagnosis of autism depends on the observation of parents and doctors regarding the development of children.

Most of the times, paediatrician play an important role in diagnosing this condition as the symptoms of autism begin from infancy. Children are usually taken for regular consultation from a very small age. During such consultations, general observation by parents and observations help in determining if the child is suffering from this condition.

If a child is showcasing most of the symptoms mentioned in the above section, then it provides a good foundation for diagnosis. It may be difficult to determine in many cases, because there are instances where children suffering from autism do not develop many symptoms.

Some autistic children even have excellent intellectual abilities. Also, it is common for the symptoms of autism to be misunderstood as symptoms of some other diseases. These factors need to be taken into consideration during diagnosis.

Summary:The effects of this disorder is different in every individual. It is essential to have a long-term consultation with doctors to figure the best plan of action for the treatment of autism in every individual.

What is the Best Therapy for Autism?

These treatment methods can help people feel betterwith their symptoms, which involve therapies such as:

  1. Speech therapy:

    This therapy includes techniques that help children with autism to express them efficiently. It improves children’s ability to interact with other. Speech therapy is not limited to verbal communication. It also includes teaching individual to express their thoughts through pictures, gestures and writings.

  2. Occupational therapy:

    This therapy includes techniques that help children with autism to express them efficiently. It improves children’s ability to interact with other. Speech therapy is not limited to verbal communication. It also includes teaching individual to express their thoughts through pictures, gestures and writings.

  3. Applied Behaviour Analysis:

    In this therapy, the first step is to analyse the behaviour of individuals with autism. After that, any negative or potentially harmful behaviour is gradually removed and positive behaviour is encouraged through positive reinforcement, i.e., rewarding them for positive behaviour. Anger management is also important if individuals seem to get irritated and agitated frequently.

These therapies will produce better results when they are applied in early stages. So children are more likely to benefit from them compared to adults.

What is the Best Medicine For Autism?

Medicine: Autism causes varying symptoms in individuals. Every person suffering from this disorder displays different behaviours and issues. So depending on the symptoms of individual, certain medications are prescribed by doctors following a specific case study.

As such, there aren't many medications that can be generally prescribed for all cases of autism. The only category of medications that is approved by the FDA specifically for autism are antipsychotics, namely Risperidone and Aripiprazole. These are used to treat symptoms of psychosis, depression, aggression and irritation is people having autism.

Can Autism be cured?

There is no such cure for autism, however, some therapies and treatment considerations can be taken to lower the risk of symptoms. The treatments are as follows:

  • Play therapy
  • Behavioural therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Autism patients need relaxation. Massages, blanket therapy, meditation also might help.
Summary: There is no cure for autism. All we can do is be careful at the time of pregnancy. If there is an autistic person in the family, provide a calm and peaceful environment and help him/her to tackle the situation.

Can Autism be Prevented?

The cause of autism is unknown, hence, there is no such prevention technique as well. Doctors believe that autism could be an outcome of a genetic disorder. Other than that it could be a result of something a mother experiences or does that could be harmful to the baby during pregnancy.

Now, while we do not have a preventive measure for autism, we can increase the chances of having a healthy baby.

  • Adopt some lifestyle changes like:
  • Live a healthy life, exercise regularly, eat healthy food.
  • Don't take drugs during pregnancy
  • Strictly prohibit alcohol during pregnancy
  • If you have an existing health condition, seek treatment for it.
  • Get all the needed vaccinations

Can autism be detected at birth?

The newborn baby might have a birth defect if the mother is exposed to certain chemicals. And it's not possible at the time of pregnancy, for the doctors to find out whether the baby will be born with autistic disorders.

Can autism be reversed?

According to a study, some children, if correctly diagnosed at an early stage may lose every sign of symptoms as they grow up. Some children, with very severe conditions, may never be able to communicate or make eye contact but other children could live a relatively normal life.

What Foods are Good For Autism?

Studies have suggested that some food and dietary choices can have positive impact in individuals with autism. These include:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids

    Omega 3 fatty acids are known to boost neurological function and brain development in otherwise healthy individuals. That is why they are also recommended for people with autism. However, research has not proven definitely that it can bring improvement in individuals suffering from autism.

  • Magnesium supplements

    Magnesium is known to improve certain conditions like short attention span, problems with concentration and anxiety. Since these symptoms are commonly observed in people who are suffering from autism, so magnesium supplements can help to improve such symptoms.

  • Melatonin supplements

    People with autism often have trouble sleeping and relaxing. Lack of sleep aggravates other symptoms and behaviours caused be autism. Melatonin supplements can help such individuals to get better sleep and relaxation which in turn, improves other behavioural aspects of autism.

  • Gluten free and dairy free diets

    Individuals with autism can be affected negatively by dairy products and foods that are rich in gluten. So a gluten free and dairy free diet is recommended. Since avoiding dairy products can cause calcium deficiency, so other non-dairy foods that are rich in calcium must be consumed by individuals affected by autism.

Overall, it is important to consider that all these treatments and dietary options are no definite guidelines for autism.

Can diet have an impact on autism?

There is no such thing as a diet pattern for autistic people, however, some autism advocates are in search of some food that could lower the symptoms of autism. The results have found that artificial additives like preservatives, colours and sweeteners must be avoided.

What are the Home Remedies For Autism?

Most of the home remedies for autism include providing proper diet, supplements and therapies. It is essential to list out foods to eat and foods to avoid. Generally, it is recommended to eat magnesium rich diet, vitamin D rich diet, fish oil, essential oil etc.

It is advised to avoid gluten, sugar, soy etc. Communication therapy, behavioural and speech therapy is to be practised at home so as to make the patient feel safe and positive. Finally, Ayurveda and Chinese therapy can also be sought for as alternative natural home therapies.

Popular Questions & Answers

I am 42 years old. I realised recently that I have attention deficit and am not able to focus or complete any tasks. I also realized now that I was an adhd child which affected my studies through out. Is there anything that can be done to bring more focus.

BASM, MD, MS (Counseling & Psychotherapy), MSc - Psychology, Certificate in Clinical psychology of children and Young People, Certificate in Psychological First Aid, Certificate in Positive Psychology, Positive Psychiatry and Mental Health
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Hello and welcome to Lybrate. I have reviewed your query and here is my advice. The chances of add is less. So it could be due to stress.I suggest telephonic counseling and online psychotherapy for you. You can contact me for further advice and tr...

My dad is 75 years old. Since last october, he is suffering from mental health issues. He started to get angry on frivolous matters, talking much on unnecessary things, imagine non-existent things (like someone has stolen his dress), etc. We therefore consulted a physiatrist for medical help. Initially, since there was not much improvement in my dad’s condition the doctor increased the dosage. But when my dad became too silent, the doctor started decreasing the dosage. As the medication continued for next 5 months, my dad started behaving in reverse order (talking very less, always sleeping, lost appetite for eating, walking very slowly, getting irritated with sounds). As his condition was same even after reducing the dosage 2-3 times, we consulted another physiatrist who was highly recommended by people know to us. However, things got worse and in the first day of medication itself my dad’s health worsened. He was not able to stand / walk properly and was completely drowsy. For the next few days, the doctor changed the medication several times. Currently, he has stopped medicines for mental health issues and has prescribed medicines for improving his physical health. However, my dad hasn’t recuperated properly and still not able to walk around freely, sometimes loosing balance when standing, sitting, climbing up steps and getting down from steps, seems lost in his thoughts and don’t communicate much with us. He also has difficulty in wearing his shirts (especially, putting buttons on). He also gets confused while choosing places to sit and ends up sitting on the edge / corners of the chair and sofa. He has also lost his appetite for eating. To sum up, before we started this medication, he was able to do his daily chores all by himself without our support. But now he is completely dependent on us. We are lost for reasons for this change of behavior and physical condition of my dad. Kindly let us know, if we are doing proper medication and any suggestion you have on treatment. Following are his present medications: •syndopa 275 (4 times a day every 4 hours) •selgin 5 mg (2 times a day) •syndopa cr (1 time in night) •complete td (1 time in night) •betonin syrup (5 ml for three times) he is also taking his regular medicine for blood pressure (arkamin 100 mg and amladoc 5 mg one time each) we are also worried about him taking excessive medicines at this old age. Please help us with your valuable guidance.

Pain Medicine Externship, Fellowship In Addiction Psychiatry & Addiction Medicine, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Psychiatrist, Panchkula
Hello sanjeeva I hear your concerns in this regard. I think you need to speak with your doctor or setup an online consult so that the medication regime can be streamlined after taking into account detailed medical history and past reports.

My 4 year daughter who doesn't speak (adhd), suffering from stomach pain due to excessive gas. Doctor suggested cremaffin syrup 5 ml 3 times for 10 days. After giving this syp she was fine for 15 days, and again pain what to do pls suggest.

Counselling Psychologist
Psychologist, Thane
Hello Librate user Take some small piece of jaggery and add it in one cup of water and let it boil for 2 to 3 min till it reduce.Let it cool down n give her at bedtime.This you can continue for a week n then stop.This will regularlise her system H...
1 person found this helpful

My son is autistic and has adhd issue. doctor's previously prescribed risperdal oral solution. But, since I moved back to india, I can't find any. What could be the best substitute to it.

MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Diploma in Child Health (DCH), MRCPCH, MRCPsych, CCT (Child & Adolescent Psychiatry)
Psychiatrist, Chennai
Hello I think risperidone oral solution (1 mg/ml) are indeed available in india - different brands like risperdal liquid, sizodon syrup, risdone liquid are there. Having said that, it is important to review whether your son continues to need rispe...
1 person found this helpful

I am final year medical student & having exam in next 2 month but I couldn't focus on study & I am recently having emotional break down & fear of losing my best friend make me very very weak. I am having negative thought whole day & for stop my thoughts I used to sleep in day 10 hrs. And I cheat on my parents bcz they thought I am studying whole day & this make me feel guilty.

MS - Obstetrics and Gynaecology, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Gynaecologist, Shimla
I am sorry to hear about your concern but will be happy to assist you. Being unable to concentrate can be the result of a chronic condition, including: alcohol use disorder. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd) chronic fatigue syndrome....
1 person found this helpful

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