KC Parent – April 2011
4/1/2011 12:00:00 AM
What is it?
Mary Anne Hammond, a Kansas City Education Coordinator for Autism and Related Disorders says, “Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD’s) are complex, biological, developmental disabilities that affect social interaction, behavior and communication.” The three classic disorders of ASD’s are listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Autistic Disorder - (“classic” autism) have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. They may have intellectual disabilities.
Asperger Syndrome –have milder symptoms of autistic disorder, such as social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. They typically don’t struggle with language or intellectual disabilities.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) – (atypical autism)
These kids meet some, but not all, of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome. They usually have fewer and milder symptoms.
- Social interaction – poor eye contact, lack of interest in peers, doesn’t show affection, doesn’t respond to parent’s smile, lack of joint attention (looking at objects parents are looking at or pointing to), and doesn’t bring toys/objects to parents to share interest.
- Communication – little or no babbling, repeats words or phrases, doesn’t respond to his name, cannot hold a conversation with others, no longer uses previously spoken words.
- Behavioral – repetitive behaviors, no fear of common dangers, lack of imaginative play, difficulty changing routine, abnormal interests, high pain tolerance, may be overly sensitive to surroundings.
What Causes ASD?
Hammond says, “We do not know, but have learned there are many (potential) causes: environmental, biologic and genetic factors.” Since 1998, when the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a report, stating immunizations may be linked to the development of autism; numerous families have chosen to ignore the government’s standard recommendations for childhood immunizations. The BMJ has now retracted that report, and states the research data is fraudulent and the physician who falsified the research has had his medical license revoked.
Treatment Presently there is no cure. However, there are management tools available for families to maximize learning and lessen the symptoms of autism. Nemours reports, “Finding the right program and getting early help is key. People experience great gains with the appropriate treatment and education.” Applied behavioral analysis, speech therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, and some medications to treat the symptoms, can be beneficial. For more ASD information, refer to www.nichd.nih.gov/health.
Stacey Hatton is a proud mother of two girls, a pediatric nurse and freelance writer.