Autism is a neuro developmental disorders and appears in early childhood, usually before age of 3 years. It often makes it hard to communicate with and relate to others. Some children show signs from birth. Others seem to develop normally at first, only to slip suddenly into symptoms when they are 18 to 36 months old. Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls. It knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle, or educational levels also do not affect a child's chance of being autistic. With autism, the different areas of the brain fail to work together. It has the following three defining core features:
- Problems with social interactions
- Impaired verbal and nonverbal communication
- A pattern of repetitive behavior with narrow, restricted interests
- Autistic Spectrum disorder : Severe autism is officially termed as autistic spectrum disorder. It goes by many other names such as profound autism, low functioning autism or classic autism. It refers to problems with social interactions, communication, and imaginative play in children younger than 3 years.
- Asperger's syndrome : A Person with Asperger’s Syndrome can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe. These children don't have a problem with the language and they tend to score average or above-average on the intelligence tests. But they have some social interaction problems and limited scope of interests as children with autistic disorder.
- Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) : It is also known as atypical autism. It describes individuals who don't fully fit the criteria for other specific diagnoses, but are nevertheless autistic.
- Rett syndrome : Rett syndrome is a neurological and developmental disorder that mostly occurs in females and is marked by poor head growth. It is the only one of the autism spectrum disorders that can be diagnosed medically. Loss of muscle tone is usually the first symptom. Other early symptoms may include problems crawling or walking and diminished eye contact. They stop using their hands to do things and often develop stereotyped hand movements, such as wringing, clapping, or patting their hands. The inability to perform motor functions is perhaps the most severely disabling feature of Rett syndrome, interfering with every body movement, including eye gaze and speech. Infants with Rett syndrome seem to grow and develop normally at first, but then stop developing and even lose skills and abilities.
- Childhood disintegrative disorder : These children develop normally for at least two years and then lose some or most of their communication and social skills. These children stop socializing, lose potty-training skills, stop playing, lose motor skills and stop making friends.
- There is no known cause of Autism. It appears far more likely that doctors and scientists have not been able to identify a medical or environmental cause(s) for autism. Given the complexity of the disease, and the fact that symptoms and severity vary, the most likely causes could be environmental, immunologic, and metabolic factors that influence the development of the disorder.
- There is probably no single gene or genetic defect that is responsible for autism. Researchers suspect that there are a number of different genes that, when combined together, increase the risk of getting autism. In families with one child with autism, the risk of having another child with autism is 3% to 8%. The concordance of autism in monozygotic twins is 30%. A number of studies have found that first-degree relatives of children with autism also have an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders. Researchers are also currently exploring whether factors such as viral infections, complications during pregnancy and air pollutants play a role in triggering autism.
- In some children, autism is linked to an underlying medical condition. Examples include metabolic disorders (untreated phenylketonuria [PKU]), congenital infections (rubella, cytomegalovirus [CMV], toxoplasmosis), genetic disorders (fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis), developmental brain abnormalities (microcephaly, macrocephaly, cerebral dysgenesis), and neurologic disorders acquired after birth (lead encephalopathy, bacterial meningitis). These medical disorders alone do not cause autism as most children with these conditions do not have autism.
The list of symptoms and behaviors associated with autism is long, and each affected person displays his or her own combination of these behaviors. None of these clinical features is common to all people with autism, and many are occasionally exhibited by people who are not autistic. The severity of symptoms varies greatly, but all people with autism have some core symptoms in the areas of:
- Social skills :
- Fails to respond to his or her name.
- Poor use of body language and nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures.
- Appears not to hear you at times.
- Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.
- Lack of empathy, people with autism may have difficulty understanding another person's feelings, such as pain or sorrow.
- Dislikes any kind of proximity, holding and cuddling.
- Difficulty interacting with other people and failure to make peer friendships.
- Doesn't ask for help or request things.
- Language development:
- These children generally have severe problem in speech development.
- If speech is developed, it is abnormal in content and quality.
- Difficulty expressing needs and wants, verbally and/or nonverbally.
- Doesn't appear to understand simple questions or directions.
- Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people with autism have difficulties continuing a conversation after it has begun.
- Stereotyped and repetitive use of language.
- Behavioral pattern:
- Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping.
- Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change.
- Moves constantly.
- Extremely sensitive to sound, touch and light while being oblivious to the sensation of pain.
- Restless by nature.
- They often get engaged in self-destructive activities like cutting their limbs or banging their head on the wall.
- They develop food preferences and sometimes crave for things that are not edible like dirt, chalk etc.
- Abnormalities in eating or sleeping.
- Playing in odd or unusual ways.
There is no lab test or X-ray that can confirm the diagnosis of autism. Its diagnosis is based on clinical judgment regarding observations of the individual's behavior. Information from family members and other observers is of primary importance in making the diagnosis. However, the pediatrician may order tests to rule out other conditions that might be confused with autism, such as mental retardation, metabolic or genetic diseases, or deafness.
- The pediatrician observes the child and may do a simple screening test to see if a developmental problem may be present. Screening tests do not diagnose autism. Done in the office, they are simple tests that indicate a problem may exist. They usually involve simply observing specific behaviors (for very young children) or how a child responds to simple commands or questions (for older children). Some widely used screening tests include the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) for children aged 18 months to 4 years of age and the Autism Screening Questionnaire for children aged 4 years and older.
- Other professionals, such as speech and language pathologists, audiologists (specialists in testing hearing), occupational therapists, physical therapists, and social workers, may be involved in the evaluation process. The comprehensive evaluation of a child with autism might include:
- Obtaining complete medical and family history
- Physical exam
- Formal audiology evaluation
- Selected medical/lab tests on an individual basis (for example, lead levels, genetic tests, metabolic tests, brain MRI, lectroencephalogram [EEG])
- Speech, language, and communication assessment
- Cognitive and behavioral assessments (focus on social skills and relationships, problem behaviors, motivation and reinforcement, sensory functioning, and self-regulation)
- Academic assessment (educational functioning, learning style)
There is no cure for autism, nor is there a standard therapy that works for all people with autism. One point that most professionals agree on is that early treatment is important; another is that most individuals with autism respond well to highly structured, specialized programs. The goal of treatment is to maximize your child's ability to function by reducing autism symptoms and supporting development and learning. Treatment options may include:
- Behavior and communication therapies : Many programs address the range of social, language and behavioral difficulties associated with autism. Some programs focus on reducing problem behaviors and teaching new skills. Others focus on teaching children how to act in social situations or how to communicate better with other people. Though children don't always outgrow autism, they may learn to function well.
- Educational therapies: Children with autism often respond well to highly structured education programs. Successful programs often include a team of specialists and a variety of activities to improve social skills, communication and behavior. Preschool children who receive intensive, individualized behavioral interventions often show good progress.
- Family therapies :Parents and family members can learn how to play and interact with their children in ways that promote social interaction skills, manage problem behaviors, and teach daily living skills and communication.
- Medications :No medication can improve the core signs of autism, but certain medications can help control symptoms. For example, antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety, and antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems. Other medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive.
- Stem Cell India Research Centre offers a reliable stem cell treatment for autism. Stem cell therapy is a novel and effective approach to treat this specific condition and is based on the unique ability of stem cells to influence metabolism, immune system and restore damaged cells and tissues.
- We use stem cell therapy to reverse the autism abnormalities through administration of antibiotics and anti‐inflammatory agents.
- Cells taken from bone marrow can regulate the immune system and induce generation of new blood vessels in tissue that lacks oxygen. It is thought that these stem cells may help increase the blood flow in the temporal region of the brain, an area that is believed to be inadequately oxygenated in autistic children.
If you wish to know more about how stem cell therapy can help you personally, ask the doctors at Stem Cell India Research Centre. We also encourage you to carefully study our stem cell transplantation methods and understand the different factors that may influence your decisions regarding the treatment. contact us for more information.