By Dr. Amulya Shetty, Psychiatry
Autism is a disorder of brain development. Characterized by difficulties in social interaction, non-verbal and verbal communication and repetitive behaviors, they affect individuals differently and to varying degrees.
Even though a lot of research is still going on, findings indicate a strong genetic component as well as environmental, metabolic, and immunologic factors influencing the development of this disorder. Studies have indicated that it might also result from an interruption in early brain development while still in the uterus. It is important to know that there is no one type of autism, just as there is no one cause of autism.
- The most obvious signs and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age.
- The following are some of the symptoms you should look out for:
- Delay in or lack of spoken language
- Little or no eye contact
- Repetitive language use and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., twirling objects, hand flapping)
- Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
- Lack of interest in interactions
- Persistent fixation on a part of an object
Autism is usually a lifelong condition and currently, there is no cure for this disorder. But all children and adults benefit from therapies or interventions, that can reduce symptoms and increase skills and abilities. Early diagnosis and intervention can make extraordinary differences in the child’s development.
Treatment for autism may include a combination of the following:
- Special Education: Children with autism usually benefit most from a highly methodized environment and use of routines. Education is structured to meet the unique needs of your child.
- Behavior Modification: It includes strategies for supporting positive behavior and decreasing undesirable behavior.
- Speech, Physical or Occupational Therapy: They are designed to increase the functional abilities.
Medication: Currently there are no medications approved to treat autism, but certain medications can be used to treat specific symptoms such as hyperactivity, anxiety, and behavior that might result in injury.