Autism is a neurological condition characterized by impairments in social, communicative and behavioral development. It is three times as common, like ADHD, in boys. The level of severity varies and the problem of autism is international in scope. It has been described as a “public health concern.”
In 1943 Dr. Leo Kanner of the Johns Hopkins Hospital studied a group of 11 children and introduced the label early infantile autism. A German scientist, about the same time, labeled a milder form of the disorder which became known as Asperger syndrome. These are two the most common of the disorders known as pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), or as autism spectrum disorders.
The five PDD disorders are autism, Asperger syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (the latter two being less common that the first two). Also, a 5th is labeled as PDD-NOS, that is pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, a disorder that does not meet the specific criteria for the other commonly diagnosed disorders.
At times it takes discernment on the part of parents and treatment teams, psychologists and professionals in determining whether a child has ADHD, autism, or some other disorder.
Experiences Recently the girlfriend of actor Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, released the book “Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism,” about her son, Evan, and his progress in coming out of autism, as well as about Carey’s attentiveness to him and the role that she felt that had in his partial recovery. Evan is 5-years-old (November 2007) Evan’s experience here.
Stories such as this do give a ray of hope to parents whose children are autistic and should encourage them to take whatever postitives steps they can to work with their children to see what might be of help. For some children, full recovery might not be possible, for others, that might be hope for a better life through therapy and lifestyle adjustments.
A boy named Eric was diagnosed with autism. He couldn’t make eye contact and his parents were faced with a choice of using medication or behavioral therapy. After a short but not good experience with medication, they found that behavioral therapy was effective in helping Eric to open up. Within a short time he was making eye contact and engaging in productive educational activities.
His therapist Eve Band, and Owning Mills psychologist, states concerning autism, that many autistic children are “highly visual.” In teaching or working with autistic children, she states, “when you support something verbal with something visual that he creates, it helps him rework, process and remember the information.”
There are specialized schools within the public school system for autistic 自閉症成因 children. Such classes consist of few students with a high ratio of teachers and students.
While it is generally held by many authorities that autism is not significantly helped, or is not helped at all through the use of medications, psychiatric medications are something that is being routinely prescribed to control symptoms associated with autism.
At times, children with autism might also suffer from depression or from such difficulties as seizures, which are said to effect 1 in 4 who have some form of autism. Antidepressants have been prescribed for such depressed children, and in the case of seizures, the use of anticonvulsants. However, the whole spectrum of psychiatric drugs are also being experimented with in treating symptoms of autism.
Each professional might hold a different opinion. Parents, though, should realize that medications for autism, at best, might help to improve some of the symptoms for a limited time, but also, psychiatric medication in general also have many difficulties and side effects associated with them, as described in other sections of this website. This can especially be true for children.
The thought, then, expressed here, and by a number of other professionals and professional organizations is to use medications sparingly, or not at all. Positive therapies, educational remediation and lifestyle changes or adjustments will probably work just as well, if not much better than medications in the case of autism and its related disorders. Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, feels that about 10% of children with autism can fully or partially recover with therapy.
Another authoritative source states that approximatly 1/3 of those who receive intensive therapy, especially from preschool years, can achieve marked improvement, another 1/3 can be helped somewhat and the other third might night make much progress at all. Children who are effected the most by the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders are those who will be least likely to achieve any marked improvement, although there are always exceptions.