Also you can see other web sites:
It is not caused by thymersol nor the MMR.. see: MMR
They suggest a questionnaire if you think your child 18mo to 3 yr old might
have it: M-Chat
Autism is a subset of a group of developmental disorders known as Pervasive
Developmental Disorders (PDD).
PDD is a broad term used to describe a broad spectrum of abnormal behaviors, while the
narrower terms like Autistic Disorder, Aspergers Syndrome, Retts
Disorder, and Disintegrative Disorder refer to more specific signs and symptoms.
The behavioral criteria for each disorder are stipulated in the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
Autism is frequently diagnosed during the preschool years. The presenting symptoms are
frequently noticed by parents or preschool teachers. Between the ages of eighteen and
thirty-six months, speech delay, absence of speech or loss of words is usually noted.
Parents may also be concerned about a lack of reciprocal and imaginative play. That is:
Reciprocal play implies an interchange or relationship between persons while engaged in an
activity. Young autistic children may run around during a game of tag, but do not seem to
understand the idea that the game involves an interaction between the person who is
"it" and the other players. Young children with autism do not generally engage
in make-believe or "pretend" games. They may play with the toy kitchen by
sorting food rather than pretending to cook or eat the food. If another child is playing
too, they will not seek to include that child in their activity.
Occasionally, parents of infants with impaired attachment may seek medical attention.
Older children may present to their pediatrician with odd speech or unusual behaviors.
These include stereotypic behaviors, preservation, detachment(A child who appears detached
may isolate herself. Or a child may be described as "being in his own world.")
or echolalia(Repeating what someone has just said. For example, "Jason, you are a big
boy!" "Big boy," repeats Jason.). Autism persists into adulthood, but the
outcome varies. Some adults continue to have severe speech deficits, while others develop
adequate communication skills and appear close to normal. Often these adults are described
as eccentric, introverted or compulsive.
Symptoms of Autism. The main symptoms of autism are:
- severe impairments in social skills
- deficits in communication
- a limited repertoire of interests, activities and play
These symptoms may be manifested as follows:
1. Social Skills
Young children diagnosed with autism are frequently described as being independent.
They do not ask for assistance with difficult situations. For example a young child may
not point to a desired food or toy, but will cry or try to get the object himself. The
child may prefer to play alone rather than interact with others.
Contrary to popular belief, children with autism may display affectionate signs such as
hugging or kissing. However, these displays usually lack a reciprocal quality. New places
or unfamiliar people may create anxiety in autistic children, resulting in crying,
tantrums or aggression. Also, large group activities, like circle time or play groups, may
Older children with autism may have difficulty making friends, because of a lack of
social skills. They may be described as shy or aloof. An autistic child may prefer to
spend time alone rather than participate in cooperative games. Sports and other physically
demanding activities may be difficult, because motor skills are mildly impaired. This
usually manifests itself as clumsiness in a child who later becomes known as the
"bench warmer" at school.
Expressive language skills are always impaired in children with autism. Some young
children with autism may lack speech altogether, while others may have a large vocabulary
but lack the communicative intent of language. These children may speak long sentences but
their speech is perseverative, filled with jargon, or characterized by echolalia. The
autistic child tends not to use language to communicate socially, but merely to get the
things he or she needs. Parents may report that their childs language milestones
were on target for the first twelve to eighteen months, and then the child stopped
talking. This history of language regression may also mark the time when parents notice
Receptive language skills, or comprehension, are always impaired as well. The deficit
varies from mild to severe. A child with a mild receptive impairment may have difficulty
understanding open-ended questions or jokes. A child with a severe receptive language
impairment may be unable to understand language at all.
Non-verbal communication is also abnormal in children with autism. This includes the
use of gestures, body posture, eye gaze, and facial expression. Prosody is usually
abnormal in children with autism. The childs speech may sound flat, high-pitched, or
machine-like. The communication skills of an autistic child change over time, due to
developmental processes and interventions.
3. Play, Interests and Activities
Young children with autism usually do not engage in imaginative play. They may line up
toys without awareness as to what the toys represent. Their play is usually restricted to
repetition and perseveration. They may line up their toys for hours, or watch the same
video over and over again. Stereotypies like hand flapping may also dominate their play,
further restricting their range of activities.
Transitioning between activities is often difficult for children with autism, resulting
in tantrums or ritualistic behaviors. It is not uncommon for some autistic children to
become obsessed with certain objects, television programs or videos. The child may sing or
repeat commercials or songs endlessly. For example, they may insist upon holding a small
car everywhere they go. Eating may be affected by a limited list of food preferences. For
example, the child may refuse all green foods or want only "fast-food."
Decreased need for sleep or other sleep irregularities may be particularly difficult for
Comorbid Impairments in People with Autism
Patients with autism may show comorbid impairments affecting their cognition, sensory
functioning, or attention/activity level. They may also have symptoms of epileptic
About 75% of persons diagnosed with autism are mentally retarded. The severity of their
autistic symptoms is directly correlated to their level of cognitive impairment. For
example, the more stereotypies, perseveration, and restriction of activities, the lower
the IQ. However, one must be cautious in diagnosing mental retardation in young autistic
children, since preschool IQ tests are not always predictive of later outcome. Some
children improve significantly after exposure to effective language, educational, and
behavioral treatments. A few children with autism may have exceptional artistic,
mathematical, or memory skills despite significant deficits in other areas. The term
savants has been used to describe people with these gifted abilities.
Many children with autism are hypersensitive to particular sensory stimuli such as
light, sound, touch, and smell. Examples of this include hiding or covering the ears when
loud noises like the vacuum cleaner are on. Florescent lighting may cause some children to
shield their eyes, while some children are fascinated by sparkling visual displays.
Tactile hypersensitivity causes some children to rip the tags off their shirts or refuse
to wear certain fabrics. Other children must sniff their food before eating.
3. Attention/Activity Level
Attentional skills may be very variable. An autistic child may be able to sustain long
periods of fixed attention when playing alone with toys, ie, spend hours lining up
matchbox cars. However the same child may be unable to concentrate when involved in an
activity that requires interaction with another person. Some children with autism are very
hyperactive, further complicating their ability to focus on certain activities.
Approximately one-third of adults with autism will have had a seizure. A few children
are diagnosed with autism following infantile spasms or seizures due to Lennox-Gastaut
syndrome. However, the risk of seizures increases with age and peaks during adolescence.
Children with mental retardation and autism have a higher risk of developing epilepsy.
Treatment of Autism
There is no cure for autism. Treatment should be directed at improving functional
language and social skills, while reducing maladaptive behaviors. Pharmacologic
interventions may be helpful in reducing targeted symptoms such as hyperactivity.
The standard treatment approach to autism includes a multidisciplinary approach,
involving education, speech and language therapy, behavior modification, and sometimes
pharmacologic treatment. This approach has been very effective for many children.
There are also many nonstandard treatments that have not been scientifically proven to
be effective. One should keep an open mind regarding new treatments and carefully weigh
the pros and cons of therapeutic options. Parents are eager to learn more about new
treatments, and frequently ask their physician for advice. Many physicians are
uncomfortable about discussing alternative approaches. However, physicians must recognize
that about 25% of their pediatric patients with chronic diseases are taking nontraditional
treatments. The physician can guide the parent without endorsing the treatment in
determining whether or not a new treatment is appropriate for their child.