Sunday, November 6, 2011

Autism: Peeking Into the Undisclosed Mind

The interface of man and environment is still, the most intriguing mystery yet to be understood by us. We do not comprehend the human mind, utterly and wholly. That basic breach, in our basic understanding have either left us helpless, or have stretched our 'research-instincts' to realms forbidden for long, yet encroached upon for the sheer need of it.

When we are discussing 'cognitive neuroscience' (behavioral sciences), we ought to make up our minds to delve into the deepest realms. When we are referring to autism, we need to refer to something called the 'autism spectrum disorders' or ASD. Now, let's understand what ASD denotes. It denotes a group of symptomatically associated disorders pertaining to defective cognition in human beings due to biochemical discrepancies in the human neurology. These include Autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder, Child Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental disorder and Rett Syndrome. Cognitive delays, repetitive behavioral tendencies and social deficits are marked features of ASD.

The onset, if at all has to take place in an individual appears within three years of his/her birth. Parents may get the indications of their child being autistic roughly around 18 months, when the child exhibits typical speech disabilities. Now, reasons to such a neurological anomaly are a vast area of mystery, but certain, probable causes are, Chromosomal abnormalities (this being the most obvious of reasons), digestive tract disorders, inability to metabolize vitamins in the body, mercury poisoning, vaccine sensitivity etc. Many consequent dysfunction is observed (from the neurological aspect), which may include, Fragile X Syndrome, mental retardation and tuberous sclerosis and seizures. In a more layman way of putting things, your child could be autistic when you find him or her responding (or not responding at all) to general stimuli around him.

The brain development is markedly hindered; or they unfold in exceptional patterns that cannot be synced with the said 'normal' environment. The diagnostic technique is based on 6 symptoms, two each, on qualitative impairment of social interaction and communication, and one each in restrictive and repetitive behaviour. Tools, for research, Childhood Autism rating scale (to measure severity), Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (based on parental interviews) and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, based on the interactive capability of the child and observation of the same. Various research organisations namely, Autism Research Institute, Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Autistica etc. Are dedicated towards intensive medical researches and can be communicated with for relevant, practices that you might wish to consult for treatment, advancements etc. Yes, alternative therapies are coming upfront as well, along with hard-core medical applications and expertise in computer programming, educational computer-based games etc. Autism resources after they were known, and observed in many individuals, gave rise to experimenting and testing knowledge to diagnose the severity of autistic cases and apply respective treatment procedures.

Richard emphasises on the 'alternative' therapeutic applications of his research on treating autism. Resources for autism can be availed from various online journals like 'Autism Network', and a multitude of research papers and essays and online databases.

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