Autism, otherwise known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD, is not one condition, but rather a range of developmental disorders. Difficulty with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and non-verbal communication are common signs of this disorder, and up to 1.9% of children in the United states are affected with ASD.
There are many types of ASD involving a combination of environmental and genetic factors. People with this condition can range from needing a lot of support in their daily lives to living independently, as their learning, thinking and problem-solving skills vary greatly. ASD is often associated with sensory sensitivities, medical issues like sleep, seizure and gastrointestinal disorders, and other mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and attention issues.
While the causes of ASD are still not fully understood, there are factors that increase the risk, such as having a sibling with ASD, having a genetic predisposition, having older parents, being born at an extremely low weight, taking certain drugs during pregnancy (valproic acid and thalidomide), and having genetic conditions like tuberous sclerosis or fragile X syndrome.
It can be difficult to diagnose ASD since there are no medical tests, but rather doctors must assess the child’s development and behavior. This can sometimes be done as young as 18 months, but diagnosis is often made closer to the age of 2 or 3. Some children do not get diagnosed until they are much older, and this may mean they do not get the early intervention so vital to treating ASD.
While there is no cure for ASD, intervention before age 3 can help children learn important skills, like walking, talking, and interacting with others. Because ASD is a spectrum there is no single best treatment, but early intervention can help children emphasize their strengths and reduce their difficulties. Various medications are sometimes used to treat the symptoms of ASD, while educational, behavioral, and psychological therapy all play an important role in treatment.
Bio-Touch is a powerful complementary tool that can be used within the family to help both the child and parents in dealing with ASD. It has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety and can also help to address the other medical conditions that can be associated with ASD.