The Autistic Child

What is Autism?

Autism is one of the mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders that appear in early childhood. Autistic children may have a serious lifelong disability. However, with appropriate care and training, some autistic children can develop certain aspects of independence in their lives. Parents should support their autistic children in developing those skills that use their strengths so they will feel good about themselves.

What Are the Signs Of Autism?

When an infant or toddler:

  • does not cuddle or respond to affection and touching.
  • does not make eye contact.
  • appears to be unable to communicate.
  • displays persistent failure to develop two-way social relationships in any situation.
  • does not show a preference for parents over other adults.
  • does not develop friendships with other children.
  • has poor language skills; or nonexistent ones.
  • shows unusual, extreme responses to objects – either avoidance or preoccupation.
  • finds moving objects, such as a fan, hold great fascination.
  • may form an unusual attachment to odd objects such as a paper or rubber band.
  • displays repetitive activities of a restrictive range. spins and repeats body movements, such as arm flapping.
  • may repeat television commercials.
  • may indulge in complex bedtime rituals.

 

help for autistic children and parents of autistic childrenThe symptoms of autism range from mild to severe. Although symptoms of the disorder sometimes can be seen in early infancy, the condition may appear after months of normal development. About 7 in every 10 children and adolescents with autism, also have mental retardation or other problems with their brain function or structure.

How Common Is Autism?

Recent studies estimate that as many as 14 children out of 10,000 may have autism or a related condition. About 125,000 Americans are affected by these disorders, and nearly 4,000 families across the country have two or more children with autism. Three times as many boys than girls have autism.

What Causes Autism?

Researchers are unsure about what causes autism. Several studies suggest that an autistic disorder might be caused by a combination of biological factors, including exposure to a virus before birth, a problem with the immune system, or genetics.

Solutions to Help Autistic Children

Parents who suspect autism in their child should ask their family doctor or pediatrician to refer them to a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who can accurately diagnose the autism and the degree of severity, and determine the appropriate educational measures.

Drugs are of minor importance in solving autism. Antidepressants occasionally help a little. Standard anti-violence agents, especially anti-psychotic drugs, lithium, and beta-blockers, may be needed for autistic persons who strike out at themselves or others.

Conventional anti-psychotic drugs are often highly sedative and have serious side effects, including body movement disorders. Anti-convulsant's may be useful; some researchers have suggested that unrecognized partial complex epileptic seizures, which cause changes in consciousness but not physical convulsions, are one source of autistic behavior problems.

Little is known about the long-term effects of drugs on autistic persons. They should be used only for specific symptoms, not merely to keep a child docile or quiet the anxiety of a parent or doctor.

 

(*NOTE: Using EEG Biofeedback, Sensory Integration Training, Auditory Integration Training, and Sound Therapy techniques that are customized for each patient's individual needs, Mind Builders has produced significant improvements in the lives of patients with autism and autistic spectrum disorders.)


Autism Affects the Whole Family

In addition to working with the autistic child, a child and adolescent psychiatrist can help the family resolve stress – for example, a feeling among the siblings that they are being neglected in favor of the autistic child, or embarrassment about bringing their friends home. The child and adolescent psychiatrist can help parents with the emotional problems that may arise as a result of living with an autistic child, and also help them provide the best possible nurturing and learning environment for the child.

Autism Resources for the Parents

The parents of an autistic child bear a heavy burden. They are frustrated by the child’s inability to communicate, impulsiveness, emotional unresponsiveness, self-destructive behavior, and eating and toileting problems. Some parents find it difficult to accept the diagnosis and constantly look for other explanations.

Many cope well enough, but all can benefit from some guidance and services, including counseling or supportive psychotherapy. An important resource for parents is the Autism Society of America, a mutual aid group founded in 1965, which provides information and referral services and supports initiatives in research, education, and care.

 

For More Information:

For additional resources, please contact your local Mental Health Association or:

National Mental Health Association
2001 N. Beauregard Street, 12th Floor
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone 703/684-7722
Fax 703/684-5968
http://www.nmha.org

 

Mental Health Resource Center
800/969-NMHA
TTY Line 800/433-5959
http://www.nmha.org/infoctr/index.cfm

 

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
3615 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20016
www.aacap.org

 

Autism Society of America
7910 Woodmont Ave
Suite 650
Bethesda, MD 20814-3015
Phone: (800) 3-AUTISM
http://www.autism-society.org

 

Autism Speaks

1 East 33rd Street

4th Floor

New York, NY 10016

(212) 252 - 8584

http://www.autismspeaks.org


(*NOTE: Using EEG Biofeedback, Sensory Integration Training, Auditory Integration Training, and Sound Therapy techniques that are customized for each patient's individual needs, Mind Builders has produced significant improvements in the lives of patients with autism and autistic spectrum disorders.)

For additional information, call 
Mind Builders at 925-837-1100 or 408-740-3100

Offices in San Ramon and Los Gatos

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