Thursday, October 13, 2011

Can Autism Be Prevented?

Can autism be prevented? Unfortunately, no, it cannot be prevented or cured. Early diagnosis is critical and may help maximize an autistic child's ability to speak, learn and function. Regular visits to a pediatrician can help with early signs and detection. The earlier treatments can begin, the more effective they will be.

Autism is a pervasive development disorder. It is actually a group of illnesses that cause delays in the development of many basic skills, such as, the ability to form relationships and socialize with others, the ability to communicate and use imagination. Many children with autism are confused in their thinking a have problems with the world around them. They usually have a limited range of interest and are unable to bond with their parents or siblings.

Symptoms of autism will usually appear before age 3, but will last throughout life. Some of the symptoms are difficulty with communication, including using and understanding language, difficulty in using non-verbal communication, such as, gestures and facial expressions and the inability to make friends and even preferring to play alone. An autistic child may have a distinct lack of imagination and be unable to adjust to any change in routines or surroundings. They may exhibit an unusual insistence on following daily routines in exact detail.

While babies all develop at their own pace, you should consult a physician if any of these warning signs are present. If your baby does not babble or coo by 12 months of age, or seems unable to gesture, point or wave by 12 months or is not saying at least single words by around 16 months of age. If your child has lost any language or social skills at any age it could be a warning sign worth some further exploration by a physician.

While the exact cause of this disease is not known, much speculation about the correlation between childhood vaccinations and autism has surfaced in recent years. Some parents believe there is a link between the vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella. Research, however, suggests that the only link is that symptoms of autism usually appear shortly after age one, or the usual time these vaccinations are started. Researchers believe there is no connection other than a coincidence of timing.

Autism treatment usually includes a combination of special education, speech, physical and occupational therapy and behavior modification. There is no medication to specifically treat the disease, but some medication may be used to treat specific behaviors such as, hyperactivity, nervousness or behaviors that may result in injury.

Can autism be prevented? Unfortunately, no, but with early diagnosis and treatment, symptoms may improve as children age. The outlook appears better for children with higher levels of intelligence who are able to communicate with language. Again, regular visits to a pediatrician can detect any signs of autism so that early treatment can be started. The earlier treatments begin the more effective they will be.

Do you have an autistic child or loved one? Calm your fears and don't despair. Help is near. Right now, before you do anything else, click over to the Parent's Autism Guide. This may be the most important thing you will do today.

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