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Autism Diagnosis and Treatment

Autism is considered a health disorder or disability which manifests itself through symptoms like an impaired ability to interact with people, restricted physical or mental behavior and repetitive motions and actions. Most children are diagnosed with Autism before the age of three based on established medical procedures and always developing diagnostic methods. This condition affects the way the human brain processes information by altering how nerve cells and synapses connect with each other. The alteration process has yet to be fully understood, so the actual cause of Autism remains a medical mystery. Some link it to a genetic profile or mutation, while others say it is a birth defect which may be caused by an as yet undetermined chemical or environmental agent.

Either the disorder itself, or the ability for health practitioners to better diagnose Autism, is on the rise with about one in one thousand people currently being recognized as mildly to severely Autistic. Researchers who range from being serious to spurious blame everything from vaccinations like the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, to the increase in heavy metals in the environment due to industrialization as the potential cause of that increase. Signs of Autism tend to appear within the first two to three years of a childís life and include a lack of the ability to express emotion (smile or hug), a failure to develop simple communication skills and a general disinterest in pointing out things that other children might notice or find fascinating.

There is no known cure for Autism and it was not that long ago that children with the disorder were placed in mental health treatment facilities for warehousing and care. Today there are four types of treatment available which are most often recommended for Autistic people: Behavioral Training and Management, Specialized Therapies, Medicine and Community Support along with Parent Training. Behavioral training and management includes positive reinforcement, self help advice and training, and social skills instruction to improve behavior and communication. Specialized Therapies include speech, occupational and physical therapy. Medicines treat symptoms and related conditions which may include depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Community Support along with Parent Training allows people with autistic children or their relatives to help better manage their condition inside the household and outside in the community. Most of this training is doctor or mental health practitioner recommended on a case by case basis.

A number of alternative therapies like secretin and auditory integration training have become popular over the past few years. The main problem with most of these is that while they may show some promise with some people suffering from Autism, they may not work with others because so many forms of the disorder exist and the functionality rates between sufferers vary greatly. For example, practitioners of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) attempt to improve behaviors like social skills and adaptation through repetitive learning and object teaching. Their goals include helping Autistic people to gain whatever level of self-control they can and to learn various behaviors which can be adapted to any situation. This type of training appears to work for the majority of sufferers who are able to understand it, but those who donít would not show any improvement.

The most important discovery about Autism made over the past several decades is that early diagnosis, treatment and training can help to make all the difference in the quality of life for some people suffering from this disorder. While we still do not know the actual cause of Autism or have a cure for it, there are now many choices available to those with the disability and the people that care for them. At this point the best way to manage Autism to to become educated about it and use all the credible treatments and training programs available to sufferers.


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