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AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS: TRYING TO SOLVE THE PUZZLE

Dr. Pranathi Gutta, Thursday, November 7, 2019

WHAT ARE AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurological and developmental condition that usually appears during the first three years of life. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary with each individual.


WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF ASD?

Though ASD research has advanced significantly in the past decade, it is still not known exactly what causes the disorder. Several hundred genes have been associated with autism spectrum disorder, and they may interact in a complex manner with each other and with the environment. We do know that ASD is not caused by psychological factors, parenting behaviours or practices, or vaccines.


WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?

Although the symptoms of autism vary in severity, there are two major categories:

  • Difficulty with Social Communication: Children with autism spectrum disorder often struggle with nonverbal communication behaviours (for example, making eye contact, reading, and using facial expressions and gestures) that come naturally to other children.
  • Repetitive Behaviours and Motor Movements: Some children with autism spectrum disorder may flap their hands or rock back and forth, repeat lines from books or movies, or have strong or muted reactions to sensory stimuli (for example, smell, sound, or touch). They may have a particular interest or hobby that is unusually intense compared to those of other children their age. Children with ASD may insist on certain routines or patterns in everyday life or want to play with toys in atypical ways (for example, spinning the wheels of a toy car rather than “driving” it).

 

HOW IS ASD DIAGNOSED?

There is no biological test for autism spectrum disorder. The diagnosis is made when a physician or psychologist identifies ASD characteristics through directly observing the child and gathering a developmental history.

While children develop at different rates, parents should speak with their child’s doctor if they notice the following by 18 months of age:

  • Does not respond to his name
  • At times, appears to be deaf
  • Does not speak
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm
  • Engages in repetitive motions, such as rocking, spinning or hand flapping
  • Is easily upset by a change in routine
  • Walks on her toes
  • Has unusual attachments to objects or schedules
  • Doesn’t know how to play with toys
  • Doesn’t return a smile
  • Has poor eye contact
  • Prefers to play alone or with adults
  • Lines up toys or objects


WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS AVAILABLE?

Scientists agree that the earlier in life a child receives early intervention services the better the child’s prognosis. All children with autism can benefit from early intervention, and some may gain enough skills to be able to attend mainstream school.

The most effective treatments available today are:

  • Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA): ABA encourages positive behaviours and discourages negative behaviours. In addition, ABA teaches new skills and applies those skills to new situations.
  • Speech Therapy: Since people with ASDs have deficits in social communication, speech therapy is an important treatment option. Speech therapy with a licensed speech-language pathologist helps to improve a person’s communication skills, allowing him to better express his needs or wants.
  • Occupational Therapy (OT): Occupational therapy is often used as a treatment for the sensory integration issues associated with ASDs. It is also used to help teach life skills that involve fine-motor movements, such as dressing, using utensils, cutting with scissors, and writing.
  • Physical Therapy (PT): Physical therapy is used to improve gross motor skills and handle sensory integration issues, particularly those involving the individual’s ability to feel and be aware of his body in space.
  • Medications: These can help ameliorate some of the behavioural symptoms of ASD, including irritability, aggression, and self-injurious behaviour, helping accentuate the success of other therapies.


WHY KIMS?

We, at KIMS, one of the best paediatric neurology hospitals in Hyderabad, can customize care to each child’s and family’s particular needs, bringing together a wide range of specialists. Our best paediatric neurologist in Hyderabad have expertise in developmental behavioural paediatrics, child neurology, neurodevelopmental disabilities, psychology, psychiatry, speech and language and genetics, making KIMS provide the best autism treatment in Hyderabad.

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