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AUTISM

Updated: May 14




(By Solomon Mahoi, [Pseudonym, "Abck Obba"])


April 24, 2024


Usually, encountering ailments that are curable hardly sits well with whoever encounters them let alone encountering a disease or disorder that is incurable, or of which there is no cure. And the emotional pain and or mental torture that follow these situations could sometimes be difficult to bear or manage, to the point that they create frequent social and physical uneasiness in the daily lives of the individuals who suffer them. Similarly so, individuals with autism spectrum disorder face daily challenges that stress their lives, including the lives of those loved ones who care about their well-being as well as the caregivers who give them care. But despite the social and environmental challenges which people with autism spectrum disorder may face on a daily basis as a result of their disorder, yet they continue to live their lives as fully as possible, even though some are aware that certain aspects of the symptoms of their disorder may never be eliminated, or be completely eliminated, for as long as they may live. Having said this, let's now take a look at what autism really is, its causes, its symptoms, as well as its treatment options, and including a brief look at its spectrum (or chain of association).



What is autism?

Generally, autism is considered a neurological disorder that impairs either physical or mental ability, or both, of the person suffering from it. These impairments therefore causes the person to lack effective communication skills, along with having difficulties learning new skills or to comprehend new information, including materials which the person's daily routine is not familiar with.


For some children, signs of autism surfaces within the first year of life, and while for others, until two years of age. And during this period between 12 months of age to 24 months of age, children affected with the disorder gain new skills to meet developmental expectations, but then will eventually lose interest in those new skills, or altogether lose their touch on them.



What are the main cause of autism?

While scientists are still applying their expertise in understanding why certain individuals develop autism and while others do not, at least for now previous researches have paved the way into us identifying some of the major factors that could possibly be the root cause of the disorder. They include:


  • Weakened sperm cells and or age-affected ovum of older parents

  • A sibling with autism (to an autistic child that is birthed by either of the two older parents)

  • Very low birth weight (or certain premature births)

  • Certain (spectrum-related) genetic conditions such as Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Rett Syndromes, Kanner's Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome, (CCD) or Childhood Disintegrated Disorder (also known as Heller's Syndrome and Disintegrative Psychosis), and Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).



What are some of the possible signs of autism?

Signs of autism are similar to those of its spectrum variants, and because of this, autism finds itself as an umbrella disorder to which Fragile X, Rett Syndromes, Kanner's Syndrome, and Asperger's Syndrome are all associated, including Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (or CCD), as well as Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (or PDD-NOS). With this in mind, here are some of the most common signs that identify behaviors that are autistic-related. They are:


  • Little eye contact

  • Distinct reactions to lights, including objects with aesthetic vibes that commands curiosity of attention, or the impulsive urge to touch or feel them

  • Very specific interests (on activities, place, food, or clothing items)

  • Repeating words of phrases

  • Repetitive behaviours (such as spinning, finger-tapping the lips, including playfully poking out the tongue for effects)

  • Nonverbal communication (or delayed language development)

  • Intense reactions to minor changes in routine (or surroundings)



What are the treatment options for autism?

As far as medical science is so far aware, there is currently no cure for autism. But there are treatment options that are proven to be effective, although their effectiveness varies depending on the person, or depending on the chain-of-association-variant (or spectrum) which the person's autism falls under, or which it is associated by. They include:


  • Behavioural management therapy

  • Cognitive behaviour therapy

  • Early intervention

  • Educational and school-based therapies

  • Joint attention therapy

  • Medication treatment (risperidone and aripiprazole)

  • Nutritional therapy

  • Occupational therapy



A brief look at what the "spectrum" or "chain of association" part of the autism disorder is:


Another name for autism is "Autism Spectrum Disorder" or ASD, and this is because within the category of the autism disorder, there lie variants (or other associated forms of the disorder) whose symptoms appear similar. These associated variants are as follows:


Fragile X:

This variant also causes intellectual disability, and it affects both males and females, but except that females are usually observed to have milder symptoms. Its symptoms are speech delay, anxiety, as well as hyperactive behaviours. Treatment is believed to be helpful, however, the condition can't be cured.


Rett Syndromes:

Also called RIS, or cerebroatrophic hyperammonemia, Rett Syndromes is a rare genetic mutation that affects brain development in girls. And although it is caused by gene mutation, however, Ret Syndromes is hardly inherited. Its major symptom is speech delay, but anxiety and hyperactive behaviours are also associated with it.


Down Syndrome:

This syndrome is also called "trisomy 21," and this is because it is a genetic chromosome 21 disorder that causes developmental and intellectual delays, especially when abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21.


Like Fragile X and the Rett Syndromes, Down Syndrome's symptoms are intellectual disability as well as developmental delays, but except that while Fragile X and Rett Syndromes do not have symptoms of a distinct facial appearance, Down Syndromes does.


In fact, this very distinct facial appearance earns the marker that is used in identifying persons with Down Syndrome.


Kanner's Syndrome:

This is when a child has a strong desire for routine activities but shows no interest in his or her surroundings.


Asperger's Syndrome:

This syndrome affects a person's ability to effectively socialize as well as communicate, which is why it is considered a condition within the autism spectrum disorders.


Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (also known as Heller's Syndrome and Disintegrative Psychosis):

This is a rare condition characterized by late onset of developmental delays in language, social function, and motor skills, somewhere around age 3.


Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS):

This variant is characterized by delays in the development of social and communication skills, which, as observed by parents of kids with the variant, gets noticed as early as infancy, although the onset of it typically begins at age 3.



Summary

Autism is a neurological disorder that impairs either physical or mental ability, or both, of the person suffering from it. And because it is categorized as a disorder that has chain of associations (or spectrum-links), the disorder therefore has chromosomal links to "Fragile X," "Rett Syndromes," "Down Syndrome," "Kanner's Syndrome, "Asperger's Syndrome," "Childhood Disintegrative Disorder," and "Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified)," all of which causes developmental delays as well as intellectual disability.


Some of the possible signs of autism are little eye contact, distinct reaction to lights, very specific interests, repeating words or phrases, repetitive behaviours, nonverbal communication (or delayed language development), and tantrum reactions (to minor changes in routine or surroundings).


Causes of autism are believed to be associated with weakened sperm cells or age-ramping ovum of older parents, in addition to having siblings with autism. Another cause is believed to be of certain premature births that leads to a new born baby having very low birth weight. Also, certain conditions such as "Fragile X," "Rett Syndromes," "Down Syndrome," "Kanner's Syndrome," "Asperger's Syndrome," "Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (or CCD), and "Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (or PDD-NOS)," are also believed to be causes.


Treatment options range from behavioural management therapy to cognitive behaviour therapy to early intervention to education and school-based therapies. Joint attention therapy, medication treatment (risperidone and aripiprazole), nutritional therapy, and occupational therapy are also considered treatment options.



Conclusion

In severe cases, an autistic child may never learn to speak or make eye contact; however, many children with autism and other autism spectrum disorders can still live relatively normal lives, once they are given the care and attention they deserve, or that is required.


Meanwhile, while scientists and researchers alike continues to search for cure for autism and its chain of association (or spectrum), perhaps focus needs also be placed on the role weakened sperm cells and or age-affected ovum of older parents do play in the cause of the disorder, including alcohol consumption and other drug-related intakes by both parents of an autistic child, especially the mother, since it is in the mother's womb where developmental activities of the child first begins, when the child is in its embryonic form.



~ Source/Reference: Psychiatry.org













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