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Autism


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   Autism is a neurological disorder developed in young children usually before the age of three. Autism affects the information processing in the brain causing impaired social interaction, communication and restricted and repetitive behavior. Unfortunately autism is one of the disorders that we have not been able to figure that much about. Because autism affects the way that nerve cells connect to their synapses it is hard to determine where the mutation, genetic abnormality or association of other agents fit into this disease. Although we have come along way to discover how the body and its mechanisms work unfortunately in the case of autism we have yet to come up with how autism occurs.



Parents usually start to notice signs of autism within the first two years of a child’s life. Symptoms usually progress gradually over time however in rare cases children will develop normally and then regress backwards. Severity of symptoms varies from case to case. Some individuals with autism are able to live on their own and only have minimal developmental challenges where as others are completely reliant on the care of another person. Early recognition and intervention can facilitate the child to live a more socially competent life however this will not stop the child from living with autism for the rest of their life.  As there is no cure for autism presently, autistic communities have cropped up to aid in the fight against this disorder.



    Several theories have been offered, tested and disproved, however the search is still on. Presently the strongest theory is based on genetics, although even if autism is caused by genetics researchers are unsure whether it is a rare mutation of genes or whether it is a rare combination of genetic variants. Either way autism is on the rise and if it is genetic it is important to figure out these specific mutations or variants to stop the rapid increase of autistic kids.



    Other theories include environmental factors such as heavy metals, pesticides or the most common childhood vaccines. Several research studies have been conducted over the years but not a signal study can conclusively link childhood immunizations to the cause of autism. Although there is no scientific evidence to support the causal link between autism and vaccines some will not put this theory to rest. Even after a Federal court ruled there is no scientific basis and it lacks biological plausibility, some parents cannot give up the idea that a childhood vaccine could have caused their child’s autism.
 


     At this point in time research is still being conducted to find a cure for autism however until that time comes the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to be their child’s advocate. Learn as much as you can about your child’s condition and the types of treatments that are available. The main goal when treating a child with autism is to lessen the deficits that a child with autism has and increase their quality of life and functionality. There isn’t just one treatment out there and the same treatment will not affect children the same. It’s important to find the treatment that works best for your child’s needs. Researchers have show that some type of treatment is better than no treatment in the case of autism. Special educational programs have improved autistic children’s functionality to the extent that they have decreased the severity of the child’s behaviors. These programs can also allow the child to acquire much needed social; job and self care skills for future independence.


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