Dealing with autism

By admin
01 October 2013

It takes special attention and time to assist someone with autism and although a lot of research has been done, the cause of the vast majority of cases is unknown.

What is autism? Autism or autism spectrum disorder as it’s also known is a group of complex development brain disorders more often referred to as pervasive development disorders (PDD).

This lifelong, complex disorder is quite common and one in every 110 children is diagnosed with it. Research has shown autism is diagnosed four times more among boys than girls.

There are different levels of severity and combinations of symptoms but recent studies have shown multiple genetic components could be the cause and that when these components combine with undetermined environmental factors they can also have an impact on the mental state of a child. The outcome of autism on a child’s life is normally determined by the timing of exposure to these environmental factors  – which can be before, during or after birth.

Genetic disorders such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis and Angelman syndrome can be linked to autism however only a small percentage is affected by these. Other factors which can contribute are exposure to environmental agents such as maternal rubella. During pregnancy chemical agents such as thalidomide and valproate may also have an effect. Over the past 30 years research has shown autism may involve inflammation in the central nervous system. Emerging evidence also shows how the immune system can influence autism-related behaviours.

These are some signs to look out for in your child:

  • Finding it difficult to socialise.
  • Finding it hard when it comes to verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • Repetition of words and sentences.
  • Finding it hard to adapt to normal learning abilities.
  • Abnormal movement patterns which would include finger flicking and rocking.
  • Preferring to be alone most of the time.

However if you notice any of these factors in your child it doesn’t mean they’re suffering from autism.  When in doubt visit a professional who’s knowledgeable about the disorder such as a neurologist, psychologist or paediatrician.

Source: Autism Western Cape

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