Autism, which is sometimes also referred to Childhood Autism, Early Infantile Autism, or Kanner’s Autism, is caused by some neurological malfunction that causes marked delays in the development in the areas of communication and social interaction. Autism is a developmental disability that often occurs during the first three years of a child’s life. Autism, generally, affects the perception, attention, and thought of a person, though, it normally occurs at a younger age.
Autism isn’t an easy disorder to diagnose. Diagnosing autism is a very subjective process, though the DSM IV lists specific criteria that must be met for a formal diagnosis of autism.
Autism has been known as one of the most severe neurological disorders affecting children for about fifty years, but until recently, it was considered to be fairly rare, affecting less than one in 1000 people.
According to figures published by the Department of Education, the incidence of autism and diagnoses of autism have risen a staggering 800% since 1993.
It would be easy if there was a standard treatment for all children with autism spectrum disorder, but unlike disorders like diabetes, there is no ‘best’ treatment for ASD. Since the mid-90s, there have been numerous anecdotal reports that treatment with secretin results in amazing and immediate improvements in many autistic children and adults. Amongst the commonly used treatments are behavioral interventions, medication, and lifestyle and dietary changes.
What causes autism?
Autism is a brain disorder the etiology of which is not yet understood, which means, in basic language, the cause is not yet understood. There are lots of theories, and a lot of debate about the reasons for autism, and much of it is involved in the controversy surrounding exactly how common autism is, and whether or not there’s been a noticeable rise in actual cases of autism in recent times.
For mothers and fathers, one of the most crucial pieces of information is that autism is not a psychological illness. Specialists quite specifically dismissed the worrying theory that autism is brought on by the absence of a nurturing mother, but the belief still exists in some circles. If your child suffers from autism, don’t worry, it is not due to the fact that you were a inadequate parent
The gene connection
There is a great deal of research that implies a gene-related cause for autism. For example, the rates of autism in the public is approximately 1.5 in 1000, but families with one autistic child have a 5 percent chance of having another autistic child. In fact, the majority of autism experts think that autism is the most likely to be inherited of all the neurobiological disorders. The most persuasive evidence is the studies completed involving twins. Studying twins can help to identify a genetic link for a condition by analyzing the differencein frequency rates of the complaint in identical (monozygotic) and fraternal (dizygotic) twins. If a disorder is genetic in origin, the frequency rate will be significantly elevated in monozygotic (identical) twins, since they share the very same chromosomes. In the majority of such studies researching autism, the frequency of autism is as much as 90% higher in monozygotic (identical) twins than in fraternal (dizygotic).
On the other hand, the studies raise other questions. The fact that not one of the studies showed 100% concordance in monozygotic twins suggests that there are other factors at play in the causes of autism, for instance. And other familial studies have noted common characteristics, for instance, that autism is more common in families of physicists and engineers, giving rise to the term ‘the geek syndrome’ to identify autism.
A number of doctors suspect that there could be an environmental factor in the progression of autism. Dr. Bernard Rimland, for instance, proposed in 1967 that autism may be a result of mercury and heavy metal toxicity to which a few youngsters have a genetic sensitivity. His treatment of autistic kids with a gluten-free, casein-free diet and mercury chelation therapy (removal of mercury from the system) has shown many success with most children.
Other lifestyle factors that have been suggested to play roles are viral or bacterial infections, vaccines and thalidomide.
The Supermale Brain Theory
One particularly interesting recent theory about the etiology of autism is that it’s brought on by high levels of testosterone during progression. A study in England measured the testosterone level of the amniotic fluid in mothers, then followed up with testing of youngsters after birth and at four years. It was found that the babies with the highest levels of testosterone pre-birth had a smaller vocabulary and made eye contact less usually at a year old, and were less socially developed at age four. The theory holds that elevated testosterone levels in the brain support the indicence of ‘male skills’ such as analysis of systems and seeing patterns, but repress the progression of ‘female skills’ such as communication and empathy