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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases & Conditions Arrow to Autism Autism

mother and autistic sonAutism 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

Some evidence 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.

One study published in 2012, for example, established a link between a father's age and autism.

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.

Behavioral problems 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.

Autism treatment

Since there 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.

Parents may also opt for alternative or complementary autism therapies with only anecdotal evidence of their effectiveness. This may include art or music therapy, diet regimens, or supplements such as vitamin B12 or omega-3 fatty acids.

Antidepressant drug therapies may also be prescribed to treat symptoms of hyperactivity while anti-psychotics may be used to treat more aggressive behaviors.

Despite how little is still known about the disease, it is now evident that the earlier it is diagnosed the better the chances for successfully treating the most common symptoms of autism.


also see in Diseases -> ADD / ADHD


More information about autism around the Web:

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 ....



Autism 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.

Autism - Check out an excellent overview from Wikipedia covering the history of the disease, related symptoms, diagnosis and related controversies, extensive references resources.

ClinicalTrials.gov - 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

Autism forums & support groups:

Autism 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.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

 

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