Autism is a type of developmental disorder that is usually diagnosed by the age of 3. The disorder is characterized by poor communication skills, problems with social interaction and unusual behavior. The cause of autism is still unexplained but experts believe it may be connected to genetics. Boys are three times more likely to suffer from autism than girls. According to National Institute of Mental Health, more than 500,000 people worldwide are affected by autism.
Autism is incurable but the treatment aims to relieve specific symptoms and improve a patients’ quality of life. Treatment is commonly tailored to the needs of each patient. Generally, children with autism require behavioral therapy and special educations to learn social and language skills. Medications can be prescribed if autistic child suffers from autism-related symptoms such as depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other severe behavioral problems. To gain the best result from the therapy, an autistic child should have a healthy balanced diet that mainly consists of vegetables, fruits and vitamin supplements. Doctors recommend to exclude gluten, dairies and sugar from the diet and to use stevia as sugar replacement.
Types of AutismAlthough autism is not fully understood disorder, it is known that there are different subtypes of this disease. These different levels of autism are distinguished by severity of symptoms.
Classic autism is followed by symptoms such as abnormal speech, avoiding eye contact, losing previously acquired language skills, adherence to routine and withdrawal in “inner world”. The disorder is identified in first years of a child’s life and can be treated with different therapies, medications and dietary changes.
Asperger’s syndrome is associated with milder symptoms and affected individuals can lead relatively normal life. The symptoms are mainly related to problems with social interaction and poor communication skills. Children with Asperger’s syndrome may have average or above average intelligence and can have musical or artistic talent.
Kanner’s syndrome, also known as “early infantile syndrome” is associated with typical symptoms of autism. The disorder is usually recognized by the age of 3. Common symptoms of Kanner’s syndrome include delays in development of language skills, poor social interaction, compulsive behavior and avoidance of eye contact.
Rett SyndromeRett syndrome is a type of autism that affects only girls. Although they start to develop normally, children with Rett syndrome usually begin to lose previously acquired abilities and skills when they reach 16 to 18 months of age. This disorder is characterized by muscle atrophy, particular hand movement and problems with balance and coordination.
Childhood Disintegrative DisorderChildhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is commonly diagnosed between the age of two and four. CDD is associated with regression of physical, verbal, mental and social abilities.
Pervasive Disintegrative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
Pervasive disintegrative disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) includes symptoms that are related to autism but cannot be categorized into any of autism types. Associated symptoms involve delays in development of social and communication skills.