Autism Sunday – also known as the International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, takes place on Sunday 13th February 2011. Autism Sunday was launched in 2002 with a historic service at St.Paul’s Cathedral in London by British parents and carers, Ivan and Charika Corea.
The inspiration behind the autism campaign is their 15 year old son Charin who has autism and a severe communication disorder. A small acorn of an idea hatched in their front room has turned into a massive worldwide event celebrated in many countries. Cathedrals, churches,organizations and community groups now mark Autism Sunday. Historic services are being organised as far afield as the Isle of Wight and Romford, Essex. There are 67 million people with autism around the world and over 500,000 people with autism in the UK.
Prime Minister David Cameron personally supports Autism Sunday. David Cameron said: ‘I would like to express my support for Autism Sunday. As many as one in a hundred people could be affected by some form of autism, and it is important that we recognise and raise awareness of the difficulties and challenges that they can face.’
What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in children before the age of 3, characterized
– by severe deficits in social interaction and communication,
– by an extremely limited range of activities and interests, and often
– by the presence of repetitive, stereotyped behaviors.
It is the most severe disorder within a group of developmental disorders called autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) or pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) that cover a wide range of behaviors and symptoms, all related to a lesser or greater extent to impaired social and communication skills.
In its most severe form, autism may include extreme self-injurious, repetitive, highly unusual, and aggressive behaviors.
Autism is on rise
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, PDDs were estimated to occur in two to six per 1,000 births in 2003 with autism being the most common PDD, affecting an estimated one in 250 births. As of 2004, as many as 1.5 million Americans are were believed to have some form of autism. The disorder is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and is not associated with any specific racial or ethnic background. Family income, lifestyle, and educational levels also do not affect the chance of the disorder’s occurrence.
The Autism Society of America (ASA) warns that autism is on the rise. Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and other governmental agencies, the ASA estimates that the disorder is growing at a rate of 10 to 17 percent per year, which could lead to 4 million Americans being affected by autism between 2005 and 2015.
No confirmed cause
While understanding of autism grew tremendously since it was first described by Leo Kanner in 1943, no known single cause for autism as of 2004 was yet identified, although research has shown that it results from specific abnormalities in brain structure or function. For example, brain scans show that the shape and structure of the brain in autistic children are different from those of non-autistic children.
No known psychological factors
Researchers investigated several theories and established a firm link between heredity, genetics, and medical problems, while also establishing that no known psychological factors in the development of the child have been shown to cause autism.
The genetic link is supported by observations showing that, in many families, there seems to be a pattern of autism or ASDs. While no one gene was identified as causing autism as of 2004, researchers are searching for irregular segments of genetic code that autistic children may have inherited.
Autism has also been shown to occur more frequently among individuals who have certain medical conditions, including fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, congenital rubella syndrome, and untreated phenylketonuria.
Toxins and pollution
Toxins and pollution in the environment have also been associated with autism. The Center for the Study of Autism and other agencies documented a high prevalence of autism in certain communities, for example, in the small town of Leomenster, Massachusetts, and in Brick Township, New Jersey, and attempted to uncover the reason.
Severity of autism symptoms
The symptoms of autism occur in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe and are caused by physical disorders of the brain. According to the ASA, they may include any combination of the following in varying degrees of severity:
- insistence on sameness; resistance to change
- difficulty in expressing needs; using gestures or pointing instead of words
- repeating words or sentences instead of using normal, responsive language (echolalia)
- laughing, crying, showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
- aloof behavior, seeking solitude
- refusal to cuddle or be cuddled
- little or no eye contact
- unresponsiveness to normal teaching methods
- sustained odd play
- inappropriate attachments to objects
- apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
- no fear of danger
- uneven gross/fine motor skills
- not responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf although hearing tests in normal range
Consult your doctor
The characteristic behaviors of autism may or may not be apparent in infancy (18 to 24 months) but usually become obvious during early childhood (two to six years).
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) lists the five following behaviors as signals that medical evaluation is needed:
- does not babble or coo by 12 months
- does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
- does not say single words by 16 months
- does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
- loss of any language or social skills at any age
The presence of any of these five behaviors does not mean that a child has autism, but because the characteristics of the disorder vary so much, a child should be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team that may include a neurologist, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, speech/language therapist, learning consultant, or other professionals knowledgeable about autism, or your homeopathic physician.
There are no medical tests for diagnosing autism. An accurate diagnosis must be based on observation of the individual’s communication, behavior, and developmental level. A diagnosis of autistic disorder is usually made when an individual displays six or more of 12 symptoms listed across three major areas: social interaction, communication, and behavior. Several screening procedures have been developed for use in diagnosing autism, among which are the following:
- Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). CARS is based on observed behavior. Using a 15-point scale, professionals evaluate a child’s relationship to people, body use, adaptation to change, listening response, and verbal communication.
- Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT). CHAT is used to screen for autism at 18 months of age. The screening tool uses a short questionnaire with two sections, one prepared by the parents, the other by the child’s family doctor or pediatrician.
- Autism Screening Questionnaire (ASQ). The ASQ is a 40-item screening scale used with children four and older to help evaluate communication skills and social functioning.
- Screening Test for Autism in Two-Year Olds. This test uses direct observations to study behavioral features in children under two. It is focused on three skills areas, play, motor imitation, and joint attention, that are associated with autism.
There is as of 2004 no cure for autism, but appropriate treatment may promote relatively normal development and lower the incidence of undesirable behaviors. Doctors also may prescribe a variety of drugs to reduce the symptoms of autism, such as antidepressants and tranquilizers. Educational/behavioral therapies emphasize highly structured and often intensive skill-oriented training, and they are comparatively the most effective treatments available.
The importance of early treatment is well established among professionals. Researchers have proposed that there is a critical period during which the young, developing brain is highly modifiable. For some children with autism, the repeated, active interaction provided by intensive educational/behavioral therapy may modify their neural circuitry before it goes too much awry, correcting it before autism becomes permanent.
A wide spectrum of educational/behavioral therapies were developed during the last decades of the twentieth century under the umbrella of applied behavior analysis (ABA), the science of human behavior. ABA is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree. ABA methods treat autism with particular strategies: using reinforcement procedures to increase on-task behavior and social interactions; teaching new skills (functional life skills, communication skills, or social skills); maintaining desirable behaviors (teaching self-control and self-monitoring procedures to maintain social skills); transferring behavior from one situation or response to another (from completing assignments in the resource room to performing as well in the mainstream classroom); reducing interfering behaviors (e.g., self-injury).
Specific educational/behavioral therapy programs for the treatment of autism include, for example, the following:
The Miller Method.
Developed at the Language and Cognitive Development Center (LCDC) in Boston, MA. The LCDC is a Massachusetts Chapter 766-approved day school, serving students with autism or PDD ages three to 14. The LCDC specializes in a particular approach to teaching children with autism. The Miller Method extensively uses adaptive equipment, including platforms (to elevate the child so as to help increase eye contact), large swinging balls (to expand the child’s reality system) and Swiss cheese boards (to teach motor planning, as well as to increase the child’s understanding of his or her relation to environment and space).
Discrete Trial Training (DTT).
DTT methodology has been likened to controlling the river of information and interaction that typically confronts the child with autism such that it is presented one drop at a time. This control manages learning opportunities so that skills are more easily mastered by the child. Learning occurs in small steps. Simple skills must be mastered before new learning opportunities are presented, in which the child then builds upon the mastered skill toward a more complex one.
Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH).
TEACCH is a statewide program in North Carolina that tries to respond to the needs of autistic people by using the best available approaches and methods. The TEACCH approach includes a focus on the person with autism and development of a program around this person’s skills, interests, and needs. The major priorities include centering on the individual, understanding autism, adopting appropriate adaptations, and a broadly based intervention strategy building on existing skills and interests.
Prognosis of autistic children
People with autism have normal life expectancies. Symptoms in many children improve with treatment, or as the children grow up, some eventually are able to lead normal or near-normal lives. Adolescence can worsen behavior problems in some children, and treatment should be adjusted for the child’s changing needs.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), about one third of children with ASDs eventually develop epilepsy. The risk is highest in children with severe cognitive impairment and motor deficits.
Can we prevent autism?
Since the cause of the brain anomalies associated with autism is not known, prevention is not possible.
What parents should do
Following a diagnosis of autism, parents need to work with health and education professionals for the child’s benefit. Specifically, they need to take the following steps:
- Be informed. Parents should learn as much as they can about autism so that they can be involved in determining care.
- Be prepared. Parents should prepare for meetings with doctors, therapists, and school personnel. They should ask questions and communicate their concerns regarding treatment issues and the impact of the diagnosis on the family.
- Be organized. Many parents find it useful to keep a notebook detailing their child’s diagnosis, treatment, and the meetings they have with professionals.
- Communicate effectively. Open communication is very important. If parents disagree with a professional’s recommendation, for example, they should communicate specifically why they disagree.
Autism and Homeopathy
Homeopathic remedies are prescribed by symptoms rather than conditions, as each case of a particular illness can manifest differently in different people.
Now we come to the point of what homeopathy has to offer to the child so that we can help the child to lead a better life. One of the important facts is that in homeopathy we have these symptoms covered by different remedies and can use the symptoms expressed by the behavior of the child for the sel ection of the medicine.
It is very important to get a proper history of the patient and the importance of observation comes into play even the minutest detail can help in deciding the remedy. Peculiar symptoms are required so the parents should observe the Childs behavior in details and note them down in a book.
If we know the correct details about the child’s behavior the characteristic expressions the physical complaints we can sel ect the right remedy from the Homeopathic materia medica. This similar remedy should be able to bring about the necessary change required.
Along with the medication the children should go to special school that helps them to be independent and teach then the things that will help them in the future.
What a homeopathic doctor look in a autistic child
- A correct History of the Child including the Behavior.
- Noting down the expressions of the patient.
- Physical complaints conditions of aggravation & Amelioration.
- Education in special school to make them self efficient.
- Approach to the patient based on individuality.
- Sel ection of the remedy after analysis and evaluation.
- To consider the response and the likely line of treatment.
- Maintaining a Note book and noting the changes that occur to evaluate the case.
Help Autism Child
- We can definitely help the autistic children.
- Clear detailed history is required.
- Differentiate closely related medicines.
- Give the medicines till the patient is better.
- Get the patient evaluated by a Psychiatrist and Psychologists.
The homeopathic remedies must be given with the advice of a registered Homeopathic doctor.
I have a couple of cases of Autism spectrum disorder, and going well. I shall upload case summaries here.
Dr. Anil Singhal, MD (Homeo)Autism & Homeopathy
by Dr. Anil Singhal, MD (Homeo) ( Author at Dr. Anil Singhal MD (Homeo) )
Posted on February 13th, 2011 at 9:26 am.
Last updated on July 2nd, 2014 at 2:05 pm.
Find more from Dr. Anil Singhal's Blog on: Autism