Natural treatment of Autism
Autism refers to an entire spectrum of disorders that typically appear by the age of 3 and impact on social and communication skills. Symptoms can range from so severe that institutionalization is required to so mild that the child can be mainstreamed in school and live a near-normal life. Asperger's syndrome may be a mild form of autism; it is sometimes referred to as high-functioning autism.
Scientists do not yet understand what, exactly, causes autism, bur they suspect that genetics and environment are responsible. Irregularities in some areas of the brain have been discovered in people with autism. Some have abnormal levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Some cases of Asperger's syndrome have been reported after the mother was exposed to a viral infection during pregnancy. Bad parenting does not cause autism.
Causes and Symptoms
Sources of pain: Look aggressively for all possible sources of pain, such as teeth, reflux, gut, broken bones, cuts and splinters, infections, abscesses, sprains, and bruises. Any behaviors that seem to be localized might indicate pain. If he always likes to sit curled up in a ball, for instance, or drapes his belly over the arm of the couch, that might be because his stomach is hurting.
Seizures: Some behaviors, especially those that seem particularly odd, unmotivated, abrupt, or out of nowhere, may be due to seizures. If you are concerned about this, keep a very careful record of what you observe, see if your child’s teachers and therapists have similar observations, and discuss it with your doctor.
Food allergies and sensitivities: Try to identify any food allergies or sensitivities that might be bothering your child. Diarrhea within a few hours of eating a particular food could certainly indicate an allergy; so can red, flushed cheeks or ears. Many people report that their child’s flapping or repetitive behaviors go away when they cut out certain foods. An elimination diet can show you for certain whether specific foods trigger pain or unusual behaviors.
Fatigue, hunger, or thirst: As with anyone, being hungry, tired, or thirsty can make your child cranky. Poor sleep or coming down with a cold could easily explain unusual behavior. A chronic illness or low-grade infection could make her irritable. If your child has a pattern of crankiness at a certain time of day, try offering a piece of fruit at that hour to see if it makes a difference.
Emotions: Sorrow, anger, fear, and anxiety can also have an impact on behavior. Parents who are going through a divorce, a health crisis, a job change, or a move might think they’re handling everything and there’s no reason for their child to be concerned. But if you’re stressed about something, chances are your child will be, too—particularly if he’s powerless to do anything about it, or even communicate his concerns.
No known method of preventing autism exists, although good pre- natal care may prevent some cases of Asperger’s.
Symptoms are mostly related to difficulty with social interactions and language, and typically fall into four categories: problems with verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, pretend play and responses to sensory in- formation. Communication problems include the inability to have a conversation, use of nonsense rhyming, a lack of language development, and referring to self with name instead of ‘I’. In the realm of social interactions, children may be unable to make eye contact or to form friendships. Sensory information may be poorly processed, with a heightened or lowered sense of sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste. Children would rather play alone and do not engage in pretend play. Aggressive behaviour, towards others or self, may occur, along with rhythmic movements. In some cases, development is normal until age 18 months or two years and then regressive behaviour occurs.
Three to four times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with autistic disorders, and an estimated one in 1,000 children suffer from an autistic disorder. The incidence is on the rise, bur whether it is due to an actual increase in the number of cases or to better diagnosis and the broadening of the definition of the disorder is unknown.
Children with Asperger's syndrome have severe and sustained impairment in social interaction; they fail to understand nonverbal communication or to develop relationships. They have repetitive patterns of movement or behaviours such as hand-Rapping, or they have nonfunctional routines. However, many children with Asperger's have above-normal or even high intelligence and do not experience the language delays common to autism. Several other disorders can produce behaviour that mimics that of autism. These include Children with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism, do not understand nonverbal communication and have trouble developing relationships or engaging in social interactions. They prefer to play alone. mental retardation, metabolic degenerative central nervous system disorders and schizophrenia. Almost one-third of children with autism will develop epilepsy by adulthood. About 6 percent will also have, in addition to autism, tuberous sclerosis, a little over 2 percent also have fragile X syndrome, and about 25 percent suffer from mental retardation.
No physical test exists to diagnose any of the autistic disorders. The decision is made based upon observation of the child in multiple settings, clinical interview of the parents and various questionnaires. The European company Integra Gen has announced it is developing a genetic test that could diagnose the risk of developing autism before symptoms appear. Research validating such a test has yet to be presented.
Early signs of autism in babies and small Childrens
· Don’t make eye contact (e.g. look at you when being fed).
· Don't smile when smiled at.
· Don't respond to his or her name or to the sound of a familiar voice.
· Don’t follow objects visually.
· Don’t follow the gesture when you point things out.
· Don’t make noises to get your attention.
· Don’t initiate or respond to cuddling.
· Don’t imitate your movements and facial expressions.
· Don’t reach out to be picked up.
· Don’t play with other people or share interest and enjoyment.
· Don’t ask for help or make other basic requests.
Common self-stimulatory behaviors:
· Hand flapping
· Rocking back and forth
· Lining up toys
· Finger flicking
· Head banging
· Staring at lights
· Moving fingers in front of the eyes
· Spinning objects
· Wheel spinning’
· Spinning in a circle
· Snapping fingers
· Tapping ears
· Watching moving objects
· Flicking light switches on and off
· Repeating words or noises
Although there is no cure for autism, treatment can reduce disruptive behaviour, improve sensory integration and other symptoms, and develop routines that are as functional as possible. A combination of treatments is usually needed, and may be required for life, although some children do grow up to lead normal or near-normal lives. More research is needed to identify better treatments.
• BEHAVIOUR MANAGEMENT THERAPY
Early intervention is extremely important. Two types of behaviour modification are commonly used: applied behaviour analysis (ABA) uses repetition of simple elements of behaviour followed by individualized rewards to increase functional behaviour. TEACCH, developed in North Carolina, uses picture schedules and other visual cues to compensate for deficits common to autism.
Whatever method is used, behaviour modification often relies on highly structured sessions done one-on-one with a therapist and requires involvement by parents, carers and teachers.
• MEDICATION There is no cure for autism, bur medication can treat some of the symptoms. SSRl antidepressants may reduce the frequency and intensity of repetitive behaviour and decrease irritability and aggressive behaviour. In some cases, tricyclic antidepressants work better. Antipsychotics may decrease hyperactivity, withdrawal and aggression. Stimulants can treat hyperactivity. Anti-anxiety medication is sometimes used to reduce anxiety and panic attacks.
• OTHER THERAPIES Small studies show that music therapy, provided by a trained professional, may help improve communication skills and expression of feelings, but may not impact behaviour. Occupational therapy can teach skills such as fastening buttons; physical therapy improves movement and coordination, and speech therapy helps with language skills. There are many other therapies that have not been tested scientifically.
• DIET Abnormal levels of peptides from gluten and casein have been found in the urine and cerebrospinal fluid of some people with autism. A study of 20 participants showed that a diet free of gluten and casein improved behaviour, and cognitive and social function. Gluten is found in foods with wheat, rye and barley; casein is in dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Exercise is also a great way to calm the nervous system and to teach physical self-control. Team sports that require advanced skill and social interactions probably aren’t a good idea, but depending on your child’s age, skills, and fears, going to the gym or the pool, rolling a ball across the floor, or heading out for a family walk or run can help reduce stress and feed sensory needs.
· According to one study the benefit of proprioceptive information lasts for about two hours, so your child might need a sensory break like this approximately every two hours. Some children need to get stabilized much more frequently. Of course every child is different and their needs are likely to change daily. Judy talks about her need to get sensory information proactively—before there’s a problem—and reactively, if there’s something in the moment that’s causing her stress.
· One goal of therapy is for your child to develop enough self-awareness to know when they need to stabilize, self-regulate, and take a sensory break—and to know how to do these things. Then, regardless of their issues, they will manage better in the world.