Autism is a brain disorder that is usually diagnosed in childhood. Abnormally slow child development such as in language skills or in socialization are typical early signs of the disease, which occurs much more frequently in boys than in girls.
Research on autism is ongoing, but at present there is no known cure and no single identifiable cause.
Autism - vaccine controversy
has pointed to the use of early childhood
vaccines as a possible cause, especially those containing a
preservative that contains small amounts of mercury. In 2008, the
Hannah Poling case - in which a toddler was stricken following the administration
of 5 childhood vaccinations - only served to reignite the controversy.
However, follow-up studies have thus far failed to establish a link between childhood
vaccinations and autistic symptoms. Rather, genetic
factors are now more strongly indicated, say scientists, as the most likely cause of the disease.
The father's age and autism?
New research suggests that, as couples wait later to have children, genetic mutations are passed on
from aging fathers to offspring.
As Dr. Kari Stefansson, lead author of the research conducted in Iceland, said: “Results all point to the possibility that as a man ages, the number of hereditary mutations in his sperm increases."
While the average age of the father in the study was 29.7 years old, investigators found a two mutation per-year increase in offspring with each one-year increase in age of the father.
Dr. Stefansson added, “It is of interest here that conventional wisdom has been to blame developmental disorders of children on the age of mothers....it is the age of fathers that appears to be the real culprit.”
Autism and intestinal disorders?
Still further research suggests a link between antibiotics and improved autism symptoms. Although no formal studies have been conducted, anecdotal evidence seems to point to a connection between autism and "gut" bacteria - which is destroyed when antibiotics are administered. Other evidence suggests a link between diet and autism with improved symptoms especially shown by children restricted to a gluten-free/casein free diet.
Common autism signs & symptoms
Signs of autism in children usually manifest in resistance to holding or cuddling,
little or no eye contact, and a marked preference for solitary play.
Language skills are also usually late in developing, and when mimicking
speech they appear not to know the meaning of words, or sometimes
will continually repeat a word or phrase in a monotone.
most often appear in constant movement, spinning, rocking back and
forth, or other repetitive behaviors. Unusual sensitivity to light,
sound or touch, or visible annoyance at disruption in daily routines
or surroundings, are also hallmarks of autistic behavior in the young.
is no standard treatment for autistic symptoms, parents must choose
from a myriad of autism therapies
to address the social, behavioral and communications challenges
that autism poses. This may include working with a team of specialists
to help the autistic child improve language skills or how to behave
in social situations.
On the Web,
discover more about what medical science is doing to treat or prevent
autism, how to locate treatment specialists, clinical trials, or
find helpful tips & advice from parents who also face the many
challenges of caring for the autistic child ....
Society of America - Browse for autism resources
geared to teachers, parents and professionals plus a browseable
database of ASA chapters nationwide, related statistics, news &
updates, tips and advice for caretakers.
- Check out an excellent overview from Wikipedia covering the history of the
disease, related symptoms, diagnosis and related controversies,
extensive references resources.
- Autistic Disorder - Find out more Information on clinical trials now
being conducted in research centers across the U.S. with contact
details and eligibility requirements.
What is Autism? - From BBC Health, this details
on how to spot autism and other related symptoms, causes & treatment,
Asperger's syndrome facts and related demographics, questions to ask your
doctor, with related resources
Autism Society of Canada - This is an excellent, easily navigable guide to
the topic including information on screening, diagnosis and treatments,
tips for parents of autistic children, where to get help within
Canada, conference and events calendar, and related resources
forums & support groups:
Web Forum - Join parents, teachers and others on these busy message boards to ask or give advice, learn more about symptoms and treatments, read book reviews, get diet and nutrition recommendations, or swap recipes for picky eaters.
is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.