Friday, May 3, 2013


 What is autism?

Autism is characterized by symptoms from all three categories. These categories are
    1.      Impairment in social interaction.
    2.      Impairment in communication.
    3.      Restrictive stereotyped repetitive behavior and interests.
A parent may observe that the child has not started speaking at relevant age. The child cannot event communicate through gestures. They lack social smile, may not play with friends or lack knowledge of important persons around them. They cannot judge the mind of other person. They will not like change in daily routine even place of things. These children demonstrate stereotyped behavior same type of play and mannerisms. Those who can speak might replace I for you. They are hypersensitive to certain stimuli and hyposensitive to others.
Proposed causes of autism
Perinatal complications
Autism is more common in boys than girls with ratio of 4:1. Children with autism have mental retardation with a frequency of 70%.
Autism can be confused with-
1.      Mental retardation
2.      Schizophrenia with childhood onset
3.      LandauKleffner syndrome
4.      Congenital hearing and speech loss
Diagnosis- it is by a psychiatrist. Help may be needed from psychologist in term of applying scales for autism.

Treatment of autism

Psychological- These include educational and behavioral interventions. Proper use of these might help in improvement of symptoms but it is a very time consuming and tiring process. Facilitated communication helps in improving speech in children with autism.
Pharmacological-These include escitalopram, methylphenidate, antipsychotics, lithium and clomipramine. These drugs might improve symptoms but do not offer cure.
Autistic children have guarded prognosis and only those with high IQ have good chances.
Other non-approved theories of causes include coeliac disease and presence of preservatives in diet.
Other similar disorders
1.      Rett’sdisorder
2.      Childhooddisintegrative disorder
3.      Asperger’ssyndrome
Wishing you a healthy and long life
Dr Hitesh Sharma
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)

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