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Autism: challenges And coping Strategies

nnamdi udemagwuna

on 25 July 2013

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Transcript of Autism

Autism is a spectrum or range of disorders and no exact cause is known. However, there are several interacting causes that may lead to Autism Spectrum Disorder.
There are several identified susceptibility genes that raise the risk of Autism. Many genes likely contribute to Autism. These specific genes are believed to interact with certain environmental factors. Exposure to environmental agents such as infectious agents or chemical agents( medications and toxins) during pregnancy can cause Autism.
AAP (2007).
Genes And Environment
Some genes may place a person at greater risk for autism, called susceptibility while yet others may cause specific symptoms or determine severity of the symptoms.
In addition, parents who have a child with an ASD have a 2%- 18% chance of having a second child who is also affected
Viruses And Infections
Research has also shown that environmental factors, such as viruses, may also play a role in causing Autism. Infections that appear to be causally related to to the development of Autism include encephalitis, rubella, herpes simplex virus, mumps etc. Rubella virus was the first known cause of autism. These infections may usually affect the fetus while in the mother's womb. AAPCCD, (2001).
Autism society of America (ASA) defined Autism as a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.
Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
When taken during pregnancy, the prescription drugs valproic acid and thalidomide have been linked with a higher of ASDs. Acetaminophen has also suggested to cause autism. Children who were given acetaminophen after the MMR (Measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine have been seen to be more likely to become autistic then children given ibuprofen. AAP, (2010).
Prematurity & other disorders.

A small number of children who are born prematurely or with low weight may be at a greater risk for ASDs. Around 35% of individual with autism have other disorders like depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, Down's syndrome, epilepsy etc.
The term autism was used by psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1908. He used it to describe a schizophrenic patient who had withdrawn into his own world. The Greek word "autos" meant self and the word "autism" was used by Bleuler to mean morbid self-admiration and withdrawal within self.

Autism is a part of the five pervasive development disorders (PDD).These are characterized by: Abnormalities of social interactions & communication
.Restricted interests
. Highly repetitive behavior

Autism itself
is often called "autistic disorder" "childhood autism" or
"infantile autism". In some individuals autism may be silent or manifest only as a mental disability while in others there are repetitive movements like hand flapping and rocking.
Types of ASD
Autistic disorder: sometimes known as "classic autism". This manifest as significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors. There may be additional learning difficulties and below-average intelligence as well.

Asperger syndrome: Symptoms are milder than classic autism. There are social challenges and unusual behaviors. There may be typically no language problems or intellectual disability. However, some areas of language development may be affected. They may typically have problems with understanding humor or figures of speech. Have skills in the areas of logic, memory and creativity.
PPD-NOS: Also known as "atypical autism" these individuals meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all. Symptoms may be fewer and milder. There may be social and communication challenges.
Autism may also be of the regressive type. In these children, the diagnosis of autism is made on the basis of loss of language or social skills, as opposed to a failure to make progress, typically from 15 to 30 months of age.
Results—The prevalence of parent-reported ASD among children aged 6–17 was 2.00% in 2011–2012, a significant increase from 2007 (1.16%). The magnitude of the increase was greatest for boys and for adolescents aged 14–17. Cohort analyses revealed consistent estimates of both the prevalence of parent-reported ASD and autism severity ratings over time. Children who were first diagnosed in or after 2008 accounted for much of the observed prevalence increase among school-aged children (those aged 6–17). School-aged children diagnosed in or after 2008 were more likely to have milder ASD and less likely to have severe ASD than those diagnosed in or before 2007.
cdc. (2013).
For all those who've declared the autism- vaccine debate over- a new scientific review begs to differ. It considers a host of peer-reviewed, published theories that show possible connections between vaccines and autism.
Documented causes of autism include genetic mutations and or deletions, viral infections, and encephalitis following vaccination. Ratajczak (2011).
Parental stress
Once a child is diagnosed with an ASD, challenges for the family continue to build and parental stress rises as parents strive to adapt to meeting the needs not only of their child diagnosed with ASD but also for the positive functioning of their family. (Blackledge & Hayes, 2006).
Mothers of children with autism had a higher levels of parenting-related stress and psychological distress than mothers of children with developmental delay.
Children's problem behavior was associated with increase in both groups, but this relationship was stronger in moms of children with autism. (Univ. of Washington, 2009).
Parental stress continued
Parents described feeling confused and vulnerable about the etiology of autism. Several parents blamed the vaccinations, environmental and genetic factors.
Parents described how challenging they found trying to get services for their children with autism. They found that school and child care personnel had limited knowledge of autism and little or no skills to work with their children. Similarly, parents expressed frustration with physicians' limited knowledge of autism and autism-related resources.
Parents felt overwhelmed at trying to find money to pay for behavior therapy and special classes for their child.
Family relationships were impacted by the management and treatment of the child with autism.

Coping Strategies
Parents recognized and discussed their coping strategies
which included : managing and treating autism, advocating, planning for the future,and accepting reality, being hopeful, using humor, and social isolation. They acknowledged their responsibility for assuring that their child received appropriate educational and hopeful services. (Marcus et al. 1997)
Resources and Supports
They discussed reaching out to educators for resources and support. Parents identified professionals and the services they provide, autism specialists, other parents, family members, child care, respite services, personal finances, and insurance coverage as important supports and resources for themselves, their children with autism, and their families. (Gray, 1994)
Despite these problems, families do cope with autism and often cope successfully.

Autism society of America (2008)
National Research Council, (2001)
AAP, (2007).
ASA, (2010).
America Academy of Pediatrics, (2007). AAP news release:
Autism. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and
statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR
(4th ed.-text revision). Washington, DC.
Autism Society of America (2008). Improving the lives of
all affected by autism. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
Blackledge, J.T., & Hayes.S.C. (2000) Using acceptance and
Commitment training in the support of parents of
children diagnosed with autism. Child and family
therapy, 28(1).
Gray D.E. (1994) Coping with autism: Stress and strategies
Sociology of Health and Illness 16, 275-300.
Marcus L. (1997) Patterns of coping in families of
psychotic children. American Journal of
Orthopsychiatry 47, 383-399.
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