Autism – Causes and Treatments
Autism is one condition that requires speech therapy treatment. However, autism is often misunderstood and thought of to be something that can be left untreated. However, that should not be how things work. Autism presents a lot of problems, but the intensity of these problems could be decreased if given the correct treatment.
A lot of terms are commonly heard in relation to autism, such as: classic autism, infantile autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Atypical PDD, Autistic like, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s Syndrome and high functioning Autistic.
What Is Autism
Basically, Autism is a neurological disorder. It is classified to be a Pervasive Developmental Disorder. The main characteristic of Autism is that it affects three major areas in relation to speech and language. This triad is the impairment of the child’s: social interaction, communication and imaginative play.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder is actually an umbrella term for Autistic Spectrum Disorders. With the use of the term pervasive, it is emphasized that the disability’s range of deficits is beyond psychological development. On the other hand, the term developmental puts emphasis that the occurrence of the condition is during the child’s development rather than later in life.
Autism is actually only one condition under this umbrella. Other conditions include Rett’s Disorder, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins to show its symptoms during early childhood or infancy.
Another is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder; it somewhat resembles Autism but the difference is the first two to four years of the child’s life is rather normal, then the symptoms start to show.
Asperger’s syndrome is also in this umbrella. It is sometimes called high functioning autism. Lastly, PDD-NOS or Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not otherwise specified is also related to Autism. These are children that present symptoms similar to but don’t quite match the other conditions.
What Causes Autism
Even though a lot of research has been done, there is no identified single factor that causes Autism. Several factors are said to play a part in the occurrence of Autism. One of these is brain disorder. Recent studies show that there is a difference in the brains of people with Autism. Their cerebellum seems to be smaller than normal, and their limbic system is impaired.
Chemical imbalances are also said to play a part here. It was found that in some cases, symptoms came from food allergies, chemical deficiencies, hormonal imbalances or elevated brain chemical levels.
Heredity is also an important factor. A lot of genetic disorders have Autism as a symptom. An example would be the fragile-X syndrome. Other factors include pre-, peri-, post-natal trauma, brain damage complications and MMR immunization.
Whatever the cause may be, the child with Autism should be given the same structured training in able to stimulate his learning, language and social skills.
For a child to be diagnosed of having Autism, he should first qualify for the Diagnostic Criteria for Autistic Disorders according to the DSM-IV.
Due to the triad of Autism effects on the child, speech therapy becomes a vital part of Autism management. However, other members of the team are also needed such as pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, child psychiatrist, psychologist, occupational therapist, behavior therapist, and educators like schoolteachers or Special Education teachers.
Role Of Speech Therapist In Autism Rehabilitation
The Speech Therapist assesses hearing. He also evaluates whether the speech and language difficulties of the child is really due to Autism or another disorder. This can be taken from analyzing the child’s expressive language, receptive language, oral-motor functions, voice quality, articulation and fluency, auditory processing and pragmatic skills.