Wednesday, 18 June 2008


What is Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, although it is sometimes diagnosed much later. It affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. Common features of autism include impaired social interactions, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication, problems processing information from the senses, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour.

As we have said in most cases the average age for an autism diagnosis is between three and four years old. However many parents start to become concerned around 18 months old. This age coincides with some vaccinations and has caused many parents to blame the vaccinations for autism a debate we are not going to get into. However research over the last few years has indicated that many autistic children show signs of autism in their first year.

What are the symptoms?

The first thing to look out for is that your child is hitting the normal milestones of development. These millstones are listed in the toddlers section of mum’s home. The difficulty in detecting autism is that some children do develop slower than others so being a few weeks late reaching one particular milestone is nothing to worry about. When a child is late over a range of these milestones then it is best to seek medical advice.

Other symptoms to watch for in early development. Children with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions, and pretend play. In some, aggression toward others or themselves may be present. Autistic children often lack or rarely use the ’social gaze’, the process of looking at someone when giving them attention. ‘Joint Attention’, when parent and child are both giving their attention to the same object or person, is also rarer. These early signs forewarn of the two of most notable symptoms of autism, a lack of empathy for others and a tendency to withdraw into a world of their own. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly "regress" and lose language or social skills they had previously gained.

One of the physical symptoms of autism is the child’s patterns of movement. Clumsiness, being uncoordinated, violent outbursts and repetitive movements are all common in autism. People with autism may perform repeated body movements, show unusual attachments to objects or have unusual distress when routines are changed. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in the senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste. Such children, for example, will refuse to wear "itchy" clothes and become unduly distressed if forced because of the sensitivity of their skin.

What causes autism?

Autism is a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. The exact causes of these abnormalities remain unknown, but this is a very active area of research. It is thought that there are probably a combination of factors that lead to autism but there seems to be no definitive answer at the present time.

Are there test to see if my child has the disorder?

The simple ansewr is yes there are test. All children should have routine developmental exams by a medical professional. Further testing may be needed if there is concern on the part of the clinician or the parents. Babbling by 12 months
What is the treatment?

All treatments must be undertaken under medical supervision and they include;

Treatment programs - it is thought that an early, intensive, appropriate treatment program will greatly improve the outlook for most young children with autism.
Medicines are often used to treat behaviour or emotional problems that people with autism may have. These include hyperactivity, impulsiveness, attention problems, irritability, mood swings, outbursts, tantrums, aggression, extreme compulsions that the child finds it impossible to suppress, sleep difficulty, and anxiety.
Some children with autism appear to respond to a gluten free or a casein-free diet. Gluten is found in foods containing wheat, rye, and barley. Casein is found in milk, cheese, and other dairy products.

If you have worries that your child is autistic speak to a medical proffesional as soon as you can

For more information try these sites

Autism Independent UK (SFTAH)

The National Autistic Society