An Introduction to Autism
One of the most devastating disorders to affect children in the first three years of their lives is that of ‘Autism’. Various studies on this developmental disorder reveal that one of the many causes for this disorder amongst the infant group as also in adults is a neurological disorder that leaves direct implications on the brain of the child, in turn resulting in a variety of abnormal behaviors that may range from verbal and non-verbal communications, failure to socially interact, failure to take interest in either leisure or play activities. Yet the most disturbing aspect resulting from this disorder is that the child fails to communicate with the children of his or her age, or for that matter even the adults. This inability to communicate with the outside world leaves the child totally alone may result in adopting aggressive and/or self injurious behaviors. In other cases, there have been examples where the child suffering from autism exhibits signs of repeated body movements, such as flapping or clapping of hands, rocking, unusual and abnormal responses to their peers, failure to get attached to objects and people. Still there are those who exhibit resistance to any change around them including change in simple activities such as sitting or playing. Children and adults affected by autism also exhibit changes in the level of sensitivity on any of the five senses of sight, taste, smell, touching and smelling. As for the prevalence factor for autism, there are varied findings, one of which notes that the rate of occurrence may be 1 case in 500 individual cases studied, as reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Findings of 1977. Yet, another recent finding gives a better result and notes that there is approximately 1 affected case in every 10,000 cases of children and adults studied. Hence, introductory findings and research on autism have however summarized and concluded that it is an initially a braid disorder that gives rise to poor developmental skills with particular emphasis on the affected child or adults abilities to speak and socialize. Additionally those affected have also been found to suffer from mental retardation, seizures and mental disorders in the later years of their lives, including the common ailments of depression and anxiety.
Categorization of Autism – Classic Autism
The above introductory note on autism provides a brief picture on the developmental disorder of autism, with somewhat clear guidelines and features that exhibit the appearance of the autism. Deeper studies on the same abnormality of autism leads to observe that the primary findings on this particular disorder was classified as “classic Autism”, with features and characteristics as already briefly discussed, with a general consensus that those suffering from autism exhibited behaviors of repeating acts, and in most cases involved in highly unusual, aggressive and even self-injurious behaviors. Thus from the onset, the parents for example found that there was something ‘not right’ with their child. And some of the most common characteristics showed that the child either did not smile, or even coo, even at the instance of his parents of elder brothers and sisters, all of who are the first to come in close association and contact with the child. (Goldberg, 2004)
On the other later studies, carried out in the decade of the 1990s, it was found that the first theories showing the abnormal behaviors in the first 12 to 24 months was ample evidence that the child was suffering from autism. However, these were altered with new discoveries in the researches on autism. It was thus found that the first 15 to 18 months of the child’s life, the respective child did not exhibit any signs of abnormal activity, hence the absence of any sign or symptoms of autism in the child. Thus, children were found to be involved in all sorts of healthy and popular activities befitting a child of 15 to 18 months, including sitting up normally, crawling, and walking thus using of his or her motor skills. In fact, most of these children exhibit extraordinary intelligence, and their acts prove them to be more than affectionate and loving.
As these children grow older, not only doe they develop speech problems, but as if abrupt and without any warning signals, all their normal activities, whether developmental or academic simply come to a halt, and instead of stopping, the same children show signs of ‘regressing’. And one of the most common symptoms that prove that they have entered the stage of regressing is their withdrawal symptoms, appearing to be quiet on some occasions, while at other occasions totally hyperactive and somewhat charged. In turn they begin to show similar symptoms, as those found in children suffering from autism in their infanthood, including such activities as flapping, rocking, going into a spin, or even head banging. Thus, with the passage of time, there seems to be no difference in the symptoms of those who had developed this abnormality while still children.
Having briefly outlined the two major categories of autism, it imperative to note that in the past, as well as to some extent in the present day circumstances, this particular developmental disorder was, and perhaps continues to be treated as a “psychiatric” disorder. On the contrary and also mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, this is a purely medical condition, and certainly note mental disorder. This being cleared, it may well be noted this glaring difference of simple categorization has perhaps halted all researches and investigations to ascertain the real causes and symptoms that leads infants and elder children to be affected with autism. Furthermore, since this ailment continues to be treated by either the psychologist and psychiatrists, because most of us would like to believe that it is a psychiatric disorder, and not a biological disorder, there remains a lot to accomplish the task of removing such obvious differences and hence the different and in most cases unsuccessful methods of treatments. (Goldberg, 2004)
Findings on the Known Causes of Autism
A brief introduction of autism having been discussed in the preceding paragraph takes us to outline and discuss some of the findings on the causes of autism. In this respect, though there have been various studies and researches into the crucial area of fining causes that lead to or become a cause for autism, it is common finding of majority of researchers that there exists no single cause that can be positively identified to be linked to autism. In the not recent past there was a general belief that autism was caused by poor parenting or even blaming the family physician for administering outdated or wrong medication including vaccinations. However, recent studies have proved this entire earlier hypothesis wrong, and narrowed down thief findings to be inheritance or in some cases it was found that lead poisoning resulted in autism. (American Family Physician, 2002).
Confirming The Presence of Autism in the Child/Adult
In a study carried out by a group of researchers and reported in the American Family Physician issue of November 2002, there are some certain indications by which parents and elders in the family can find whether their child or even an adult is suffering from autism. In the case of children, it was observed that if the infant was not found to be babbling by the time he or she reaches the age of 1 year; fails to point at objects or people; fails to make any gestures for appreciating or rejecting a response; the infant does not begin to utter simple single words; fails to make phrases using a minimum of two words by the time he or she reaches the age of 2 years; or is observed to have lost interest in, or a deeper study of the child that shows that he or she has totally forgotten a skill that he or she had learnt in the earlier few months of his life.(American Family Physician, 2002).
Though there has been no treatment or medication as of yet that may either help, or even treat a child suffering from autism, simplistic techniques such as rewarding a desired behavior, normally termed as ‘positive reinforcement’, or not rewarding at all for something or act you do not wish your child to do, also termed as ‘negative reinforcement’, has helped children suffering from autism. However, there is no proven case of any medication or treatment strategy that can altogether eliminate symptoms or fully serve to treat a child suffering from autism. (American Family Physician, 2002).
Asperger’s disease as defined by the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine is said to be one of the five pervasive developmental disorders. The other four include the autistic disorder (already briefly discussed in the above part of the paper); childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD); pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS), and Rett’s Syndrome.
Those affected with Asperger’s disease exhibit similar symptoms as those found in the primary autistic syndrome, with three characteristics resembling the first syndrome. These are communication skills, motor skills, and social skills, and since these three skills are also found to occur in other developmental disorders, it becomes all the more difficult to make a clear distinction between one developmental dis-order from the other, particularly when diagnosis is required.
Yet, the most obvious characteristics found in the Asperger’s Syndrome are problems and difficulties faced in social relationships and communications. In addition those suffering from Asperger’s disease also find it difficult to maintain or even try to make eye contact; they will not react to any social or emotional contact; they would chose to stay away from their peers and friends and stay aloof from any play activities; and in majority of cases these patients will neither give, nor receive attention or show any signs of affection for any object or individuals. It is further noted that those suffering from Asperger’s disease severely lack coordinated muscle movements, hence their appearance to be somewhat clumsy. Yet, one of the most profound characteristics found in those suffering from Asperger’s disease is that they would rather choose a single activity, or point of interest, and thus are found to be engaged in that particular activity for most of their time. As also their attention, which keeps them from indulging or getting, involved in any one object or person, hence their preference for staying isolated. (Barstow, 2004)
Asperger’s Disease – Causes and Symptoms
Just as in the case of Autism, and other Pervasive developmental disorders, there seems to be no evidence to show that any specific cause or symptom leads to the Asperger’s Disease. However, modern and advanced researches into these developmental disorders reveals that certain structural abnormalities in the brain, possible genetic mutation, as well as severe changes in the functioning of the brain are all said to play some role in becoming causes or symptoms for either of the developmental disorders. In addition, newer techniques of studying activities into the various regions of the human brain, using such specialized techniques as the MRI, have however failed to materialize any particular area or region which may be centralized or localized for the presence of Asperger’s disease.
Diagnosing Asperger’s Disease
Unlike the earlier periods in history when the developmental disorders were presumed to be no more than psychotic disorders, as well as the later periods that then categorized the same disease and placed in the family of schizophrenic ailments. Today, all that has changed and with the newer scientific methods of investigations and deeper studies of behavioral sciences, the same developmental disorders including Asperger’s disease is diagnosed through a complete and detailed diagnostic process. This includes a thorough investigation of the patient’s behavior, medical and physical history of the parents as well as those around the patient. However the various similarities within the different developmental disorders make today’s diagnosis all the more difficult to categorize a single set of symptoms. As also the similar set of conditions prevalent amongst the patients, which makes the job of the health professionals even more arduous as they have to consider certain particular features to segregate Asperger’s disease?
The first of the conditions which the health practitioners look for in diagnosing Asperger’s disease is the impairment of a two way social interaction which is followed by repetitive and predictable behavior patterns and activities. The health practitioner then makes a clinical impairment of all the social, occupational and other functioning areas of the patient. The physician additionally assesses whether the patient shows no further signs of delay in language abilities, in the cognitive development, in the self-help skills, or even the adaptive behavior. And as one of the last confirmation steps, the physician assesses that there exists no signs which may provide evidence to prove that the patient is suffering from any other developmental disorder, including confirmation and striking out the possibility that the child may be suffering from schizophrenia.
Treating Asperger’s Disease
As also mentioned in the opening paragraphs of the paper, treatments and medications as such have not yet been discovered. However, there are various educational and recreational programs that more than cater to the well being of the patients, as well as serve as treatment strategies. Included in this one that demands an extra-ordinary care on the part of the parents or the care takers, as the teacher-student ratio for the eventual success of that program should not exceed 1:2. In addition there are programs involving psychotherapy and training the student in social skills, which too serve as significant factors in minimizing the disorders from getting worse. Thus, conditions such as difficulties saved in a disturbed behavior, agitation, a disturbed mood, or in worse conditions, preventing the patient from injuring himself or herself can be minimized by a number of methods including, but not limited to music, massage, hydrotherapy, physical and occupational therapy. (Barstow, 2004)
The Miller Method
First founded and developed by Arnold Miller, Ph.D., and Elillen Eller Miller in 1965, the Miller Method is a set of innovative strategies to help the children afflicted with developmental learning, academic and growth problems.
The areas covered by Miller Method in treating children from the said developmental problems include the organizational growth of their body, children’s social interaction, and communication and representation issues in both clinical and as well educational institutions. The Millers believed that the children’s developmental problems originate on their ability to develop the various “systems”, or “the organized set of chunk behaviors” all of which though may appear to be repetitive and circular at the same time, yet with consistent monitoring and evaluation, the same set of behaviors are converted into more larger and complex set of behaviors. First providing a brief on the normal children’s growth, their perception of the people and the world around them, the Millers contend that normal children gradually realized the profound differences between themselves and the world around them, including people, and as they grow, they further learn and gain control of their bodily growth vis a vis the normal problem solving skills, socializing as well as communications, hence growing up to normal adults.
In direct contrast, children challenged with developmental growth problems are observed to halt all the activities, whether physical, academic, emotional, or even psychological. With the stoppage of development of these initial and primary aspects of a child’s growth, these children face a horde of problems, including the Autism spectrum that tends to impair the very ability to respond as well as influence the world around them. The Miller’s Method hence directly aims to address this distinction between the present state of the child as the surrounding and environment appears to him or her, and nurtures the children in a systematic manner so that they gradually adopt to learn the changing environment around them. In turn the children then amalgamate both their own perceptions and the environment around them, and combining both surges forward to solve the problems, are attracted to social exchanges, as well as develop tendencies to involve in communications with those around them.
The Miller Method in Practice
The Millers have devised two strategies to address the children faced with developmental problems of the mind and the body alike. The first of these addresses the “transformation of children’s aberrant systems such as lining blocks, driven reactions to stimuli”, and change them into functional behaviors. The second strategy address the problem in such a manner that the children are allowed to repeat a set of activities which may involve either common objects and people alike. The purpose of repeating actions with the child or for the child is to inherently develop a sense of realization, accomplishment, and acknowledgement in the mind of the child. This is perhaps best explained with the given case study.
Taking a case of a child who has never experienced the simple act of dropping objects on the floor. A therapist applying the Miller Method would deliberately introduce the same act by dropping the object in the presence of the child, simply to show that when you drop an object, there is that satisfying noise, or “clunk’ sound that immediately precedes after dropping an object. The act on the part of the therapist also allows the child to learn how the simple act is accomplished, what to drop and what not to drop as well as selecting different locations for dropping an object.
A similar strategy applied to teach how these children can focus more effectively is the use of elevated structures, thus allowing the child to distinguish between scattered thoughts and those that are focused on the singular act. With the due permission and participation of parents, therapists specializing in the application of Miller’s Method, the technique of showing how an elevated square structure gives way to the child’s distorted and disorganized behavior modes and characteristics, and convert them same into focused and task-driven set of activities. Thus, the child having gone through this typical set of exercise program, eventually learns to master the given tasks, after which they are taught how the same set of behaviors and the accomplishment of tasks can be expanded, and the situation changed from the elevated square to the performance of the same on the ground. Also part of this particular teaching method is the clear distinctions between a situation where the child experiences a state of being ‘stuck’, and gradually helping him or her to move out to another activity, and all this is done without any element of any distress to the child.
One of the most important aspects highlighted within the Miller’s Method in catering to children with developmental problems is that this method allows the child to easily accommodate the needs in direct contrast with other methods, which instead give emphasis on “compliance training”. Thus, instead of assuming and expecting the child to take the first step, for example sitting down at the table, the Miller Method ensures that the respective child move and act in response to the activities and surroundings around him or her. Taking account of the important roles played by both the parents and professionals assigned with treating children with developmental problems, the Miller Method also emphasizes on the crucial importance towards the transition period. An example of this transitory period is the child’s own world of symbolism and actions to one that permits him or her to adopt and enter the world of reality, gestures, as well as the use of both spoken and written language.
Thus, it is observed that the Miller Method takes a truly comprehensive approach towards the challenges faced children suffering from developmental problems. Yet, the most encouraging aspect of the Miller Method is that it not only expands, but as well as entirely changes the limitations that the children has learnt to live, and duly enhance these limitations by introducing the entire range of activities and skills within the child in the acquisition of newer skills. In a gradual and progressive program, the child is taught to ‘stretch’ his limited reality systems, as well as nurture an environment where new skills and activities are introduced. And having made this transitory period of the child’s developmental to one where he or she learns to control his ability to take on the different situations in life with utmost of ease, the respective child then embarks upon the road to successful growth and learning capabilities.
Summarizing the objectives and goals of the Miller Method, it is thus observed that not only does the method assist in the entire transformation of a developmentally challenging child; the method is equally found practical in such simple acts as climbing stairs, going down a slide, acts that are only normal for an average healthy child. Here too, the child is put through a repetitive course of activities, with the objective that the child controls his body and mind and develop the requisite coordination to finally accomplish the said simplest of tasks. (Miller and Miller, 1989; Cook, 1998).
An important accomplishment indeed, studies and researches more than prove the success rate of the Miller Method from the sample decade of 1992 and 2002, during which it was implemented on various groups of children. Thus according to the compiled by ‘The Language and Cognitive Development Center (LCDC)’, more than 55 percent of the children suffering from autism and PDD were successfully treated, and allowed to return to their native surroundings as well as public service environment amongst normal children. (LCDC, 2004)
Overview of Some of the Theories on Autism
Though the above paper more than comprehensively covers the subject of Autism, including detailed discussions on the related Asperger’s Disease and the Miller Method, the fact that there exists no particular cause, nor any specific theory which can convincingly prove the causes, incidences, or occurrences of autism gives credence to equally number of various theories. However there is convincing evidence, according to which autism is a biological occurrence more than psychological in nature and incidence. And as also stated in the preceding sentences, there exists numerous theories on autism, all of which can neither be taken for credible evidence, nor can they be rejected, simply because in each instance researches carried out on segment populations have proved their point of contentions. Some of the common theories on autism include:
- Yeast infections
Intolerance to specific food substances
Gluten intolerance (“Leaky Gut Syndrome”/Casein intolerance causing intestinal permeability
Phenolsulphertransferase (PST) deficiency–theory
Deficits in the reticular activating system.
An unfortunate interplay between psychogenic and neurodevelopmental factors.
Structural cerebellar changes.
Opioid Excess Theories
Dipeptidyl peptidase deficiency
Dermorphin and Sauvagine
Opioids and secretin
Opioids and glutathione
Opioids and immunosuppression
Gluten/Casein Theories and Relation to Celiac Disease
Gamma Interferon Theory
Free Sulphate Theory
Other Sulfation Problems in Autism
Cholocystokinin and Autism
Oxytocin and Vasopressin in Autism
Autism and Amino Acids
Methylation Theory of Autism
Stress and Immunity
Antibodies to Myelin Basic Protein Found in Autistic Children
Viral Infection Theory
Vaccinations and Autism
Action of Secretin Theories
Secretin and cAMP
Lectins and secretin
Intestinal Permeability Theories
The Concept of Increased Intestinal Permeability
Gastrointestinal Abnormalities Among Children with Autism
Binstock’s Anterior Insular Cortex Hypothesis for Linkage Between Gut and Brain
Prenatal Aspartame Exposure
Vitamin A Deficiency and Autism
Orphanin Protein: Orphanin FQ/nociceptin (OFQ/N)
Smoke and Air Pollution May Be Related to Learning and Behavioral Problems
The following segment of this paper will discuss only some of the theories from those listed above.
Stress and Immunity Theory
Certainly one of the most commonly spreading theories from amongst the vast list is that which grades rising levels of stress in human beings, , not only directly affecting the natural immune system, stress has also been said to be responsible disturbing the immuno-biology of autism. The factors that provide credence to the onset of this theory is that human immune function is dependent on the hormones called cytokines, that serve as non-anti-body molecules. These range from a variety of cells of the immune system including the more famous ones, namely Th1 and Th2 cytokines. The role of Th2 is more clarified when one observes the shifting balance of cytokines towards Th2, particularly in the case of allergic and autoimmune diseases. With respect to the evolving relationship with autism, it has been observed that excessive levels of Th2 cytokines, which in turn may result from excessive vaccination can lead to the disturbance in the autoimmune systems of the human body. A prime example aside from excessive vaccinations is the Gulf War syndrome and those suffering from asthma, both of which have shown that excessive vaccinations accompanied with the increased levels of environmental toxins and pollutants were held responsible for rising number of autism cases. (Rabin, 1999)
Another possible factor said to be a cause for the development of autism is the disturbed immune regulation system, also termed as auto-immunity. A survey carried out by the American Psychiatric Association in Washington D.C. found that Among 33 autistic children (less than or equal to 10 years of age) when compared to 18 normal children of the same age, revealed that antibodies to myelin basic protein were found in 19 of 33 ( 58%) sera from autistic children as compared to only 7 of 50 ( 7% ) sera from control children. Other studies and immunizations of autistic children also exhibit a number of characteristics that are also found in patients with a number of various other autoimmune diseases, including but not limited to insulin dependent diabetes (IDD) and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Additional immunological findings of autistic children also reveal various other factors that were said to be contributory factors in the occurrence of autism. For example a genetic perspective revealed that autism was found to be more common in “monozygotic twins” than in other groups of children; from the gender perspective, autism was found to be more common in boys as compared to girls, with studies showing a 4 to 5 times occurrence from the first over the latter; from the reaction of certain micro-organisms, it was found that two viruses of rubella and cyto-mega-lovirus infections were said to be indirectly associated with the occurrence of autism; yet another study taking the maternal genetic factor showed that maternal antibodies were also a factor in the occurrence of autism. (Sing et al, 1998; Warren et al, 1990; Singh et al, 1991)
Vaccination and Autism Theory
Yet another vitally important is one which directly attributes MMR vaccinations and the resulting viral infections with autism. This study was carried out by Dr. Andrew Wakefield at the Royal Free Hospital of England. In this particular study, it was found that an allergic type of reaction may be responsible for the occurrence of autism, and this allergic relation in turn resulted from the body’s reaction to the vaccine. In particular the study observed that the auto-immune reaction was also found to be responsible for changing or reducing the levels of DPP-IV. In addition to MMR vaccines, other similar studies also attributed the DPT vaccines, and vaccinations during pregnancy, as possible contributors for the occurrence of autism. (Yazbak, 1999). easy payment through payday advance for your children healthy