Medical management of Autism
Management of autism is multimodal. As 75% of children are found to have mental retardation educational interventions are important. As there is a delay in language development, speech therapy is necessary for improvement of outcome. Sensory integration and social skills training are some of the other methods used.
Medical management is also one of the modalities of treatment. While it is not curative, it helps to control symptoms especially of irritability, hyperactivity and self injurious behaviour. These symptoms may also interfere with other modalities of treatment and hence require treatment.
Behavior problems in children with Autism
Most individuals with Autism show several behavior issues. They exhibit difficulties in learning everyday behaviors that are necessary for their social, academic and personal development. They may lack internal motivation and ability to learn from their environment. Instead, they engage in various unusual and sometimes, harmful behaviors. It may appear that they are lost in their own world. They may be detached from their surroundings and people around them.
Occupational therapy is defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) as a “skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. Occupational therapy assists people in developing the ‘skills for the job of living’ necessary for independent and satisfying lives”.
Issues encountered in Children with Autism related to dysfunction in Sensory Integration
Most of the children of Autism have Sensory Integration (SI) issues which come in between their ability to learn and respond to environment appropriately. Some of the problems related to SI dysfunction are Hyperactivity, oversensitivity to touch/ smell/ sound, being scared of moving equipments / scare to climb down stairs, poor eye contact, they also has lack of awareness about own body or about the surrounding and kind of lost in own word, motor mannerism, poor imitation skills, lack of appropriate play behavior etc. Children might show this behavior which are not just behavior but it has sensory and neurological base which need to be addressed at that sensory level rather working on superficial behavior level. Such as forcing child to rock/ or climb down stairs when they getting panicked about it.
Autism is a “spectrum disorder”, meaning that there is a wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairments or disability that children with ASD can have. Some children are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely affected. Autism is one of those common conditions which remain unidentified or undiagnosed until very late into the developmental or formative years of a child. The reasons behind this are limited awareness of parents as well as denial or hesitancy in accepting their child's problems.
Language is different from speech:
The communication is a process in which the ideas in one’s mind is transferred to the other, either verbally or non- verbally. The Speech Language Pathologist along with other professionals works to remove obstructions in the flow of messages. This helps in the successful transfer of messages. Speech and language are two important component of communication.
Language is used to communicate our feelings, thoughts and needs with other people. Language can be either communicated verbally or non verbally. In verbal communication we use vocal symbols.
Diet in Autism
Often the nutritional status in Children with autism remains compromised. They usually have vitamin A, vitamin B - 6, vitamin B-12 and folic acid deficiencies. This could be due to many reasons like difficulty to swallow and digest many foods items, sensory problems like food preferences, diarrhea, constipation, frequent infections, bloating and gastrointestinal (GI) pain. When things go awry in the “gut,” negative behavioral changes and cognitive problems occur or are exacerbated. Hence, an alteration in the diet with respect to the nutritional requirement after assessing the other aspects like the swallowing and digestive ability is necessary so as to improve the quality life of the patient.