There is no autism cure. Recommended interventions include developmental and skill-based educational therapies: applied behavioural analysis, speech therapy, sensory integration therapy and auditory therapy. Children on the autistic spectrum require holistic approach that includes occupational therapy, socialization, and sometimes medical intervention.
Interventions can be carried out both by individual specialists and in a complex manner – when visiting the ISCs or private correctional institutions.
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Medical interventions are often, but not always necessary for autistic children. Autistic people often do not report or seek help with their medical issues due to a number of reasons: some do not know how to, others do not realise there’s help for their problem, others have lived with the discomfort for so long they assume it is normal, some are unable to articulate their issues. Therefore, it is vital for an autistic child to have regular medical check-ups. Some children have medical conditions they need help with since they are born. When a genetically vulnerable child is exposed to aggressive environmental influences, the processes in various body systems become negatively affected. Some recover in a normal manner, while others have to deal with lasting consequences.
Gastrointestinal tract is one of the more vulnerable systems that is often affected in children with autism. The most common solution to that is special diets. The most well-known one is Gluten-free, Casein-free diet. Due to allergies or intestinal pathogens such as bacteria, yeast infection and parasites, nutrients are not absorbed correctly. Instead, toxins are released into the body, damaging the gastrointestinal tract and causing inflammation, indigestion and impaired absorption of nutrients. It has a known and direct negative effect on the immune and nervous systems. Toxins enter the bloodstream after damaging the GI tract, and proceed to damage the rest of the body. They also have a negative effect on behaviour of the child.
Metallothionein (MT) dysfunction: William Walsh (Pfeiffer Research Center) has performed biochemical tests on 500 autistic patients, and found that they had an abnormal copper to zinc ratio: too much copper and too little zinc. The functions of (MTs) include formation of neurons in the brain, detoxification of heavy metals, antioxidation, immune boosting, and delivery of zinc to the brain. Leaky gut syndrome is present in many autistic children. It includes incomplete digestion of casein and gluten due to problems with zinc-dependent enzymes, impaired ability to resist candida, decreased gastric secretion, and decreased pancreatic function. The synthesis of MTs is increased by oestrogen and progesterone, which explains why boys have more obvious symptoms of autism.
Mercury: toxic effect of mercury on the fetus during pregnancy can interfere with stem cell differentiation and cause malfunctioning in braincells. It reduces the body’s ability to antioxidize due to depletion of glutathione (a protein used to detoxify the body). Mercury, affects the central nervous system, causingproblems with motor skills, understanding emotions, clarity of vision, coordination, concentration, memory, speech, socialization, leads to sleep disturbances, increased irritability, anxiety, food selectivity and slow reaction.
Persistent infections and antigens in one’s body lead to chronic inflammation, the consequences of which can be leaky gut syndrome and problems with digestive tract flora.
Too frequent use of antibiotics destroys the microflora of the body. Yeast, chronic bacterial and parasitic infections of the gut can interfere with normal digestion and generate harmful metabolism, which worsen a child’s behaviour and their autistic symptoms. That is why it is so important to monitor the external impact on the body and the substances that enter it, as well as nutrition.
Autistic children are known for their food selectivity. In addition to this, they often have an abnormal gastrointestinal system that prevents the body from processing the nutrients ingested. For these reasons, autistic children almost always lack specific vitamins and minerals, which act as antioxidants and coenzymes in many enzymatic reactions necessary for the health of the digestive, immune and nervous systems. The list of these minerals is common to autists: zinc, selenium, magnesium, molybdenum, manganese, vanadium and chromium. The reserves of these substances must be replenished.
Therapy and Interventions
Autistic children often miss out on learning essential skills, communication and recognising social cues. It is summarised as “having behavioural problems”, or “behavioural deficits”. Those skills have to be taught to autistic children. There are a number of therapies and interventions to address that. Ones that are based on behaviour analysis assume there is cause for everything a child does. The key then, is to find out the cause of behaviour and teach the child alternative ways to react or communicate their needs. Interventions that are based on development, assess child’s developmental level and help them grow from that point. Of course, there is much crossover between these two models.
Interventions focus on reducing dangerous behaviours, developing social and self-sufficiency skills, as well as managing anxiety and other possible comorbid mental conditions.
Pharmacological agents can be effective in treating symptoms that interfere with daily life. For example heightened anxiety, lack of focus, aggression, hyper or hypoactivity. However there are many drugs that claim to “cure” autism but are, in fact, dangerous fakes. In the United States, for example, there are currently only two FDA-approved drugs, risperidone and aripiprazole, for reducing aggressiveness or irritability associated with ASD. All drugs and doses have to be prescribed by a professional. If the child shows a decline in health or worsening behaviour after taking the prescribed drug, parents should consult the doctor about changing the drug or the dose. At no point should parents self-medicate their child. It is also important to note that bio-additives are not counted among those and are unproven in their effectiveness.
Non-verbal autism and therapies
There are several reasons why a child with autism does not speak. The simplest reason is lack of practice, where the muscles are simply not ready for speech. This can be corrected by exercise and massages. Lack of speech can be due to childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), a disorder that affects a person’s ability make accurate movements when speaking. In CAS, the brain struggles to coordinate the muscles and movements necessary to make speech. Lack of speech may also be due to the child’s lack of understanding of speech – they do not have the passive vocabulary to understand what others are saying, and/or lack an active vocabulary to use when speaking. Often this is accompanied by some sort of auditory problems. Some children may lose oral skills as symptoms of ASD worsen and become more apparent. Some autistic children may have echolalia, which causes them to repeat words or phrases over and over, making communication with others difficult. However many of those children use echolalia to learn necessary phrases and communicate through them.
Diagnosing non-verbal autism is a multi-step process. A paediatrician may be the first doctor to consider an ASD diagnosis. Parents, noticing unexpected symptoms such as lack of speech, may report their concerns to the doctor. He may order tests (examination, blood tests, MRI, or CT) to rule out other possible causes.
Other symptoms of lack of speech can be divided into three main categories:
- Social interaction. Autistic people often have difficulty with social interaction. They can be shy and withdrawn, avoid eye contact and not respond when called. They often miss social cues and context of the situation. Some people may not respect personal space, while others, on the contrary, dislike any physical contact. These symptoms contribute a lot to their isolation, which in turn is often a prerequisite for anxiety and depression.
– Behavior. Routine is important for an autistic person. Any violation of his daily schedule can upset them and even make their symptoms worse. Additionally, some autistic people develop intense interests and spend hours focusing on a specific project, book, topic, or event. This may be a problem if it interferes with their daily lives. However, some may have short attention span and move from one activity to another instead, especially if they have ADHD as well as autism. Each person’s behavioral symptoms are different and is complicated further if they have comorbid conditions.
– Development. Autistic people develop at different rates. Some children may develop at a normal pace for several years, and then regress at age of two or three years. Others have developmental delays from early age that continue into childhood and adolescence.
What are the prospects for non-verbal people?
There is no cure for autism. With effort and patience, autistic children can bloom into successful adults. There are many therapies to help them develop and learn. Early intervention is the best way to help any child have the best chance of success in the future.
If you suspect your child is showing early signs of autism, contact your pediatrician immediately. If you feel that your concerns are not being taken seriously, consider the opinion of another doctor.
Early childhood is a time of great change, andany child who begins to deviate from their developmental milestones should be evaluated by a professional. Then they will receive the help and support they require without delay.