Followup

Studies show that individuals with autism respond well to a highly structured, specialized education program tailored to individual needs. A well-designed treatment approach may include work on communication and social skills, sensory integration therapy, and applied behavior analysis by autism experts.

More severely ill children may require a structured, intensive education and behavior program with a one-on-one teacher to student ratio. However, many other children with autism may do well in a normal education environment with appropriate support.

Because of the nature of autism, no single approach can ease symptoms in all cases. Educational/behavioral interventions emphasize highly structured and often intensive skill-oriented training tailored to the individual child. Therapists work with children to help them develop social and language skills. Because children learn most effectively and rapidly when very young, this type of therapy should begin as early as possible. Recent evidence suggests that early intervention has a good chance of favorably influencing brain development.

In addition, doctors may prescribe a variety of drugs to reduce self-injurious behavior or other troublesome symptoms of autism, as well as associated conditions such as epilepsy and attention disorders. Most of these drugs affect levels of serotonin, dopamine, or other signaling chemicals in the brain.

Many other interventions are available, but few, if any, scientific studies support their use. These therapies include applied auditory integration training, special diets, discrete trial teaching, music therapy, physical therapy, speech/language therapy, and vision therapy. Some of these treatments are controversial and may or may not reduce a specific person's symptoms. Parents should use caution before subscribing to any particular treatment. Counseling for the families of people with autism also may assist them in coping with the disorder.

In addition to an academic program, children with autism should be trained in functional living skills at the earliest possible age. Learning to cross a street, to buy something in a store, or ask for help are critical skills and may be hard even for those with average intelligence. Training is aimed at boosting a person's independence and providing opportunity for personal choice and freedom.

Prognosis

Contrary to popular belief, many children and adults with autism can make eye contact and can show affection and demonstrate a variety of other emotions in varying degrees. Like other children, they respond to their environment in both positive and negative ways. With appropriate treatment, some behaviors associated with autism may lessen over time. Although communication and social problems will continue in some form throughout life, difficulties in other areas may improve with age, education, or stress level. Many individuals with autism enjoy their lives and contribute to their community in a meaningful way, as they learn to compensate for and cope with their disability.

Some adults with autism live and work independently in the community, can drive a car, earn a college degree, and even get married. Some may only need some support for daily pressure, while others require a great deal of support from family and professionals.

Adults with autism may live in a variety of residential settings ranging from an independent home or apartment to group homes, supervised apartment settings, with other family members, or in more structured residential care.

More and more support groups for adults with autism are appearing, and many patients are forming their own networks to share information, support each other, and speak for themselves. Individuals with autism (such as animal scientist Temple Grandin, Ph.D.) are providing valuable insight into the challenges of this disability by publishing articles and books and appearing on TV to discuss their lives and experiences.

Autism Society of America A nonprofit organization that seeks to promote lifelong access and opportunities for persons within the autism spectrum and their families, to be fully included, participating members of their communities through advocacy, public awareness, education, and research related to autism.

Founded in 1965 by a small group of parents, the society has been the leading source of information and referral on autism and the largest collective voice representing the autism community for more than 33 years. Today more than 24,000 members are connected through a volunteer network of more than 240 chapters in 50 states. (For contact information, see Appendix I.)

Understanding And Treating Autism

Understanding And Treating Autism

Whenever a doctor informs the parents that their child is suffering with Autism, the first & foremost question that is thrown over him is - How did it happen? How did my child get this disease? Well, there is no definite answer to what are the exact causes of Autism.

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