Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Autistic Difference: From Correct Diagnosis to Accurate Treatment

Autism is a very complicated neuro biological disorder. It is actually part of a group of disorders known as ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorders. It is becoming a rather common ailment with 1 out of every 150 people being diagnosed with it. That is more common than diabetes, pediatric cancer and AIDS combined. It seems to afflict boys more often than girls. The main symptom of autism is the individual's inability to communicate and relate to others. They may also be very socially impaired, frightened around others or extremely shy. Other symptoms include being obsessed with a rigid routine or arranging and organizing objects. An autistic person may display repetitive behaviors, like constant hand or body gestures, rocking motions or eye blinking. These symptoms can be very mild or extremely severe. Sometimes autism symptoms are hidden behind more serious and debilitating handicaps. Asperger's Syndrome, a close "relative" of autism, has many of the same symptoms and characteristics.

There are no medical tests that can be administered to check for autism. Diagnosis takes place by observation of symptoms over a period of time. Scientists are not completely certain what causes autism, but they have concluded that both genetics and environmental causes can play a role. The Autism Research Institute believes strongly that environmental factors such as exposure to toxic substances and over-vaccinations of infants are key possible triggers for autism. This is due in part to the fact that the majority of individuals with autism do not present a strong family history of the illness. Recent research also seems to support the environmental connection theory, stating that autism is a whole body illness caused by a biological brain disorder.

There is at present no known cure for autism. However, there are treatment plans in place. And doctors agree that the earlier in life the treatments begin the better chance of improving symptoms. Traditionally, these involve drug therapies and behavioral interventions. These treatments are none the less designed to alleviate only the symptoms of autism. Risperdal is one such drug therapy that many doctors are using in connection with autism. It has also been used to treat bipolar disorder. The FDA recently approved its use in connection with treating children with irritability, aggression and temper tantrums. Originally, it was prescribed for people with schizophrenia as an antipsychotic drug. Parents should be aware that there are some pretty severe side effects with this drug, including weight gain, fatigue, rapid heart rate, dry mouth, respiratory infections, movement disorders, tremors, involuntary movements and muscle stiffness.

Another drug that is being used to treat autism is Secretin. It is a polypeptide neurotransmitter involved in digestion. Several reports have suggested that this drug may help alleviate some of the symptoms of autism. However, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the available evidence does not suggest that this drug is a useful treatment for children with autism. But many times, parents are so desperate in their attempts to treat their children's severe symptoms that they willingly participate in these types of treatment programs. A fairly recent method of treatment that is gaining popularity is Biomedical Treatment or Intervention. Biomedical means the application of natural science to clinical medicine.

At this point in time, the American Academy of Pediatrics still considers Biomedical Treatment to be an alternative method of therapy. That being said, there is some pretty convincing evidence presented by thousands of parents as to the benefits of Biomedical Treatment with regard to the treatment of autism and other developmental disorders like ADHD. Doctors and practitioners that promote the use of Biomedical Treatment consider the symptoms of autism to actually be an indicator of a more serious underlying condition. When the underlying condition receives proper treatment, then the symptoms of autism seem to diminish. The program starts with a systematic examination of the child's entire physical internal and external environment, starting with a gastrointestinal diagnosis to the regulation of the immune system. Metabolic and genetic abnormalities are also closely examined and treated with nutritional therapy.

More often than not, the child is put on a gluten and/or casein free diet. The system uses a combination of mainstream and alternative medicines to heal the child along with the removal of heavy metals in the body. These treatments are combined with behavior and social therapies among others. Another therapy that shows promise is the use of Methyl B12 (a vitamin) and Valtrex (a prescription drug for the treatment of certain viruses). Dr. Amy Yasko developed this method that focuses on treatment of specific genes and the removal of viruses and bacteria in the body. Therapeutic clay baths are also gaining popularity in the treatment of autism due to the powerful detoxifying effect that they claim to have. It was discovered that specifically bentonite clay draws out toxic chemicals and heavy metals through the pores in the skin when used in a bath.

It has also been reported that clay baths stimulate the immune and lymphatic systems and deep
clean the skin. Since so many children today are being diagnosed with developmental disorders like ASD and ADHD and many others, there is certainly a need for something that offers hope to these desperate parents.

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