Limitations And Future Directions
We conducted a study that explored the possible role L& D drugs might have in the increased prevalence of ASD, in attempts to better understand possible environmental factors and their connection to ASD. The results from our study demonstrate an association between the exposure to L& D drugs and the development of an autism phenotype, in support of previous reports with similar findings . However, it is very unlikely that L& D drugs alone would cause an autism phenotype like any environmental factor, assessment of risk in the context of genetic predisposition should be performed.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can cause major social, communication and behavior challenges. People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave and learn in ways that are different from most other people. Some people with ASD have strong skills in learning, thinking and solving problems others have severe challenges with these skills. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives, but others need less help.
Premature babies may be more likely to show signs or symptoms of ASD than other babies. Health care providers can sometimes detect ASD in a child at 18 months old or younger. By the time a child is 2 years old, a provider may give an ASD diagnosis. But many children dont get a final diagnosis until theyre much older. This delay means children with ASD may not get the early help they need.
It’s really important to learn the signs and symptoms of ASD and get help for your child right away if you think he has ASD. Getting early intervention services as soon as possible can help improve your childs development. These services can help children from birth through 3 years old learn important skills. Services include therapy to help a child talk, walk, learn self-help skills and interact with others. Visit the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center to find your states contact information for early intervention services.
Unique Concerns For Parents With Children At Risk For Autism
Metallothionein and chelator use because of mercury in vaccines
Walsh et al from the Pfeiffer institute presented a study to the American Psychiatric Association in May 2001 suggesting that an inborn error in metallothionein proteins in autism may interfere with clearing toxic metals as well as interfere with immune function. In fact, parents need to know that Walsh has not measured metallothionein in autism, but merely makes inferences from treatment responses recorded in his centre, which has a proprietary interest in zinc products marketed for people with autism. Dr Amy Holmes has considerable credibility as a concerned paediatrician. Holmes et al presented data at the International Meeting for Autism Research in November 2001 suggesting that children with autism have a positive response to chelation, usually with DMSA, in combination with dietary lipoic acid supplements . In open-label use of chelation, Holmes reported that younger children show the most benefit when treated for two to three months. Side effects included transient increases in hyperactivity, self-stimulatory behaviour and loose stools. Excretion of heavy metals was suggested as proof of a heavy metal problem in children with autism. Although no one has, as yet, replicated these findings, parents continue to feel that mercury and other heavy metals may pose a threat and seek chelation therapy.
The AAP News in August 2001 presented a good review of the facts that parents need to know about chelators .
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Delays In Language Development
age of 1 year , a child should be able to say one to three single words and try to copy words that other people say.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders notes that autistic children may have trouble developing language skills and understanding what other people say. According to March of Dimes, about 40% of autistic children do not speak at all.
How A Child With Autism Can Qualify For Disability Benefits
This guest post is brought to you by Deanna Power, the Director of Outreach at Disability Benefits Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages get the Social Security disability benefits they need. Deanna specializes in helping applicants determine if theyre medically eligible for disability via the SSAs criteria.
If your child has autism, your family may be eligible for financial assistance. The Social Security Administration offers monthly disability benefits for people of all ages, including minor children. While many children with autism have no difficulty qualifying for disability benefits for medical reasons, technical eligibility is more challenging. If approved, your family could receive around $750 per month that can be spent on any of your childs or familys daily living needs.
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What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder
There is no clear-cut cause of ASD. Some causes that are supported by research include genetic and some environmental factors. Specific genetic causes can only be identified in 10% to 20% of cases. These cases include specific genetic syndromes associated with ASD and rare changes in the genetic code.
Risk factors include older parental age, low birth weight, prematurity and maternal use of valproic acid or thalidomide during pregnancy, among others. This field of study is an active one for reasearch.
Diagnosis Of Autism: What We Do Know
Autistic children benefit from early diagnosis, preferably in the first two years of life. Early diagnosis allows behavioral therapy or other treatments to begin early when it seems to be most effective. If you are concerned about your child, talk to your doctor about a referral to see a specialist who can help determine if follow-up is needed. Signs of autism may include symptoms such as:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- loss of language or social skills
- poor eye contact
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Introduce The Concept Of A Growing Family To Your Child
There are multiple ways you can do this.
- Show them family photos. Family photos and baby pictures can help your child understand this important concept.
- Use picture books/simple stories. There are lots of books and other materials out there to teach children the ins and outs of welcoming a new sibling into the family. Find one that would work for your childor make your own storyand then read/present it to them as often as necessary.
- Watch TV shows. There are several childrens programs that specifically cover this very subject, such as Arthur, Dora the Explorer, and Caillou. Seek out TV episodes like this and show them to your child.
Signs Of Speech And Language Difficulties
- Speaks in an atypical tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch .
- Repeats the same words or phrases over and over, often without communicative intent.
- Responds to a question by repeating it, rather than answering it.
- Uses language incorrectly or refers to him or herself in the third person.
- Has difficulty communicating needs or desires.
- Doesnt understand simple directions, statements, or questions.
- Takes what is said too literally .
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty with speech and language. Often, they start talking late.
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Some People Use Other Names For Autism
There are other names for autism used by some people, such as:
- autism spectrum disorder the medical name for autism
- autism spectrum condition used instead of ASD by some people
- Asperger’s used by some people to describe autistic people with average or above average intelligence
Unlike some people with autism, people with Asperger’s do not have a learning disability.
Some people call this “high-functioning” autism.
Doctors do not diagnose people with Asperger’s anymore.
But if you were diagnosed with it before, this will stay as your diagnosis.
Age Limit For Autism Development
Older children, teens, and adults do not develop autism. In fact, to qualify for an autism spectrum diagnosis, you must have symptoms that appear during early childhood .
Thus, if you know an adult or older child who has suddenly, out of the blue, developed behavioral or social communication issues, you are not seeing someone who has acquired autism after a period of normal development.
People who appear to suddenly behave in an “autistic” manner may have developed any one of a number of other mental health issues, some of which do most commonly appear in early adulthood.
Autism-like behaviors may result from a wide range of disorders from social phobia to generalized anxiety to obsessive-compulsive disorder. These are serious disorders that have a significant impact on an individuals’ ability to function effectively, make or keep friends, or hold a job, and they should be treated. But they are not autism.
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Rates Are On The Rise
An estimated 1 in 40 children in this country have autism to some degree, according to a recent study from Pediatrics based on 2016 data. That’s about 1.5 million children between the ages 3 to 17. Nationwide, autism strikes three to four times more boys than girls the rates are about the same for kids of all races.
Although there seems to be an autism epidemic, the Pediatrics study attributes the increasing prevalence to more inclusive reporting. The definition of autism has been expanded in the past decade to include a wider spectrum of problems with communication and social interaction. “Ten years ago, many children with mild autism were simply not diagnosed,” says Adrian Sandler, M.D., a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Mission Children’s Hospital, in Asheville, North Carolina, and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on children with disabilities. Plus, there are more state and federal programs for autistic kids, giving doctors an incentive to diagnose and refer them. However, there may be additional, unknown reasons for the spike in autism rates, and researchers are investigating everything from environmental toxins to viruses to food allergies.
What Are Other Signs And Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
A child with ASD may have challenges in communication, social and behavior skills, including:
- Has delayed speech and language skills. Some children with ASD cant speak at all or speak very little. About 40 in 100 children with ASD dont speak at all. Other children with ASD speak well.
- Has trouble talking to other people, starting a conversation and sharing his needs using typical words or motions like pointing. A child with ASD may talk a lot about something he really likes rather than have a conversation with another person.
- Doesnt understand jokes, teasing or sarcasm. Sarcasm means using bitter or teasing words to make fun of someone or something.
- Mixes up pronouns
- Repeats or echoes words or phrases
- Seems unaware when people talk to him, but responds to other sounds
- Talks in a flat, robot-like voice or talks in a sing-song or high-pitched voice
Other challenges or signs
- Is hyperactive or has trouble sitting still or paying attention
- Is impulsive
- Isnt afraid of dangerous things but is very afraid of harmless things
- Is violent
- Has temper tantrums often or hurts himself, like by banging his head or biting himself
- Has different eating or sleeping habits. Some children with ASD may eat just a few foods. Others may want to eat nonfoods, like dirt or rocks. This kind of eating problem is called pica.
- May have a good memory, especially for numbers, letters, songs, TV jingles or a specific topic
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Timing Of First Symptoms
Using a sophisticated movement analysis, videos from children eventually diagnosed with autism or not diagnosed with autism were coded and evaluated for their capacity to predict autism. Children who were eventually diagnosed with autism were predicted from movies taken in early infancy. This study supported the hypothesis that very subtle symptoms of autism are present in early infancy and argues strongly against vaccines as a cause of autism.
White Matter Brain Connectivity
On the basis of diffusion tensor imaging tractography, HR-ASD infants have been reported to have abnormalities in white matter organizational structure as early as 6 months of age in multiple fiber tracts across the brain., Aberrant WM integrity has been observed by 6 months in the genu of the corpus callosum, and WM integrity in the genu and cerebellar peduncles is significantly associated with abnormal sensory responsiveness at 24 months, a clinical domain particularly affected in individuals with ASD. These reports of reduced WM organization in HR-AD infants are consistent with studies of toddlers with ASD.,
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Does Autism Begin Before Or After Birth
So, but that still begs the question of when exactly it is developed, trouble with verbal and nonverbal communication One of the problems it can cause is autism, Hasson explains, Autism Speaks explains autism has its roots in early brain development, the underlying altered biology that leads to a diagnosis of autism may stem from a birth defect, visual or auditory disabilities, low birth rate, Autism, family history and other factors.
The Debate Is Launched
Wakefield et als first publication in 1998 reported a consecutive series of 12 patients presenting with a loss of acquired language associated with diarrhea and abdominal pain. Thorough, multisystem investigation demonstrated no definitive abnormalities other than nonspecific colitis and ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia that was found in nine of the children. Parents reported gastrointestinal symptoms for these children starting soon after their MMR vaccination. Wakefield suggested that these findings were likely initiated by an environmental trigger, although initially he did not make the direct link with the vaccine. Instead, he merely commented on his theory of a link between gastrointestinal inflammation and measles virus and the temporal association of MMR with autism.
In Wakefields subsequent communication to the American Academy of Pediatrics committee , he proposed that associated changes in intestinal permeability and altered peptidase activity allow neurotoxic intestinal products to reach the brain, which is particularly susceptible to permanent damage during times of rapid cerebral development in infancy. He added the following :
The sentiment of this statement continues to be delivered by Dr Wakefield to parents in autism meetings around the world. A survey at the Autism Society of America in 2000 indicated that more than 50% of parents present felt that vaccines were the main causal factor in their childs autism .
Measles and leaky gut
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Large Head Size Is A Red Flag
Recent findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that the brains of children with autism develop differently from an early age. Researchers discovered that most infants who were later diagnosed with autism had small head circumferences at birth but had heads and brains much larger than normal by 6 to 14 months. “Some of them went all the way up to the 90th percentile in just a few months,” says study coauthor Natacha Akshoomoff, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. Those who ended up with the most severe form of autism were found to have the most dramatic acceleration of brain growth during infancy.
Pediatricians don’t always measure head circumference at well-baby visits, so it’s wise to request it. However, don’t panic if your baby’s head size is above the norm. Some babies just have big heads. “Rapid head growth is not a way to diagnose autism,” Dr. Akshoomoff points out, “but it means that a child should be watched closely to be sure that she meets speech and behavioral milestones.”
What Is Joint Attention
Problems with joint attention are one of the most early and common signs of ASD. Joint attention is when your child looks back and forth between an object and a person. When a child does this to share interest and interact with another person, he develops skills that help him connect with other people. Most children with ASD have delays in joint attention skills, or they dont have any joint attention skills.
These are examples of how children with ASD may show different joint attention skills:
Signs Of Social Difficulties
- Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or whats going on around them.
- Doesnt know how to connect with others, play, or make friends.
- Prefers not to be touched, held, or cuddled.
- Doesnt play pretend games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways.
- Has trouble understanding feelings or talking about them.
- Doesnt seem to hear when others talk to them.
- Doesnt share interests or achievements with others .
Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder. Many kids on the autism spectrum seem to prefer to live in their own world, aloof and detached from others.
Introduce Sensory Information Early On
Are you worried about how your child will react to the babys cries? You dont have to cross your fingers and wait until the babys born to find out. Expose your child to audio clips of a baby crying. See how they react. If they become distressed, make necessary adjustments and accommodations that will help them once the baby arrives . Exposing your child to these noises may also help desensitize them.
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Researchers Agree The Mmr Vaccine Doesnt Cause Autism But The Evidence Is Weak For Other Triggers After Birth
Overall, the evidence for these prenatal exposures is stronger than the evidence for the range of postnatal causes that may trigger autism, said Amaral.
As he wrote in a recent review on the potential causes of autism, Since autism is a neurological disorder that undoubtedly reflects altered brain function, it is possible that the insult to the brain occurs after birth. But, he added: There is currently very little evidence for this.
Other popular potential postnatal causes, like profound social isolation among children, have also been disputed.
Even though were still in this gray area of trying to find more certain specific causes of autism, virtually all the causes happen prenatally, Amaral said. If you have autism, youre probably born with it.