Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), affects 1 in 68 children according to the CDC. While there is no cure, or medication that can cure ASD or treat the core symptoms, there are medications that can help someone living with Autism function better.
Screening and Symptoms of Autism
There is no blood test or definitive testing to determine if a child has Autism Spectrum Disorder. If a doctor or parent suspects that a child has ASD, there is a combination of developmental screening and a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation that a doctor can perform.
No single treatment plan works for every person living with autism. There are varying degrees of symptoms that affect those with autism, and there are different treatment options for toddlers and preschool children than there are for adults. A typical treatment plan consists of at least 25 hours of therapeutic activities each week. Activities are guided by highly trained therapists or teachers. There are well-defined learning objectives that focus on the areas mostly affected by autism which include social skills, imitation, daily living, motor skills, and communication.
In addition to the therapeutic treatments for autism, dietary changes, such as eating a gluten-free diet, are effective for some people. Successes have come from altering diet and utilizing holistic medicine as well. The Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) suggests using common sense and doing your own research before believing what is published in mainstream and social media. There is science, pseudoscience, and anti-science prevalent in ‘news’ articles published regarding autism spectrum disorder.
Medication is used for people with autism spectrum disorder to manage some of the behaviors that are associated with the disease. Since aggression, depression, anxiety, and the ability to hold eye contact are common, SSRIs are prescribed for many. Stimulants are sometimes prescribed to assist in people with hyperactive tendencies. Persons with autism that have frequent seizures are prescribed anti-convulsants.
Early intervention is an important factor in the development of a child with Autism. Ideally, if a child is diagnosed before the age of 3, early intervention therapists and doctors can help them to learn important skills that will aid in their development. In recent decades, autistic children and adults were placed in institutions. We have come a long way from those days.
There are many people who remain undiagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The focus of research is not only to determine the cause and possible cure for autism, but to help gain insight into the process that diagnoses people with the disease. The CDC uses a tracking system and conducts National Health Interview Surveys to provide data on the health of children in the United States. Recent results show that the surveys and system missed 12 out of 177 children with ASD, attesting that some children with autism are not being counted.
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There is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, but with the right therapeutic care and medication to manage symptoms, a more functional lifestyle is possible. There have been cases where children and adults have moved off the spectrum with the right combination of treatments.