Whether it’s biomedical and therapy interventions combined, or simple therapy, autism can be treated…and thousands of children have progressed because of it.
When families and caregivers begin looking into the various treatment options available for autism spectrum disorders, they will be surprised to find that there are many options out there. Unfortunately, what works for some families, may not work for others. Since individuals with autism spectrum disorders are not exactly the same, treatment plans need to be made specific for each individual.
Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of 3.
Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
Individuals with autism often suffer from numerous physical ailments which may include: allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, feeding disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, sleeping disorders, and more.
Autism is diagnosed four times more often in boys than girls. Its prevalence is not affected by race, region, or socio-economic status. Since autism was first diagnosed in the U.S. the occurrence has climbed to an alarming one in 150 people across the country.
Autism does not affect life expectancy. Currently there is no cure for autism, though with early intervention and treatment, the diverse symptoms related to autism can be greatly improved.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development*, there are five behaviors that signal the need for a doctor** to immediately evaluate a child for autism…
- Does not babble or coo by 12 months of age
- Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp, etc.) by 12 months of age
- Does not say single words by 16 months of age
- Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own (rather than just repeating what someone says to him or her) by 24 months of age
- Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age.
HOW IS AUTISM DIAGNOSED?
Autism is diagnosed based on clinical observation and testing by a professional using one or more standardized tests. Professionals most likely to diagnose autism are psychologists, psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians, and school psychologists. Some of the screenings and tests which may be used in the diagnostic process are: CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale), Autism Diagnostic Checklist Form E-2, CHAT (Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), Pervasive Developmental Disorders Screening Test -2, ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale), and ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised).
In addition, parental interview and medical history are taken into consideration.
The current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) has specific criterion required to make a diagnosis of autism, or a Pervasive Development Disorder.
There are five disorders under the PDD umbrella which include Autism, Aspergers, Rhett’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and PDD-NOS (not otherwise specified).
The diagnosis of autism may be made when a specified number of characteristics listed in the DSM-IV are present.