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Information on Autism

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It causes poor development of language and social skills.

It is one of five Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by "severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development," including social interaction and communications skills.

How Common Is Autism?
What Causes It?
What Are the Symptoms?
How Is It Diagnosed?
Additional Diagnostic Considerations
Conventional Treatments
Natural or Alternative Treatments
How Can Autism Be Prevented?
What Should You Do Next?

This web page contains some important but technical information on autism that may be difficult to understand. Please send an email or call us at 860-347-8600 if you have any questions about this information on autism.

How Common is Autism?

Recent estimates on the prevalence of autism range as high as 0.25% to 0.5% of the population. These estimates typically include those with autism, Asperger syndrome, and PDD.

Autism is three times more likely to affect males than females. This gender difference is also common in other developmental disabilities. Family income, lifestyle, and education are not factors.

What Causes Autism?

There is no known single cause, but it is generally accepted that autism is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in autistic children vs. non-autistic children. Studies of twins and siblings suggest that there may be a genetic component. In addition, an increased frequency of occurrence is noted in people with genetic conditions such as fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis. Some reports have suggested a possible association with Down syndrome.

There may be a role for neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in the development and expression of autism. Other factors that may contribute to child autism include infections, congenital rubella syndrome, neurofibromatosis, errors in metabolism, immunology, lead poisoning, mercury toxicity, and fetal alcohol syndrome. It is thought that immunizations, particularly measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, may precipitate autism. This is a very heated debate and research is still ongoing--no one knows for sure.

Autism Symptoms

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that the symptoms can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe. Although autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors, children and adults can exhibit any combination of the behaviors in any degree of severity. Two children with the same diagnosis can act very differently from one another and have varying skills.

Here is an autism symptoms checklist:

How Is Autism Diagnosed?

Additional Diagnostic Considerations

These diagnostic labs are not performed by most conventional doctors. However, they are often of great value in diagnosis of underlying imbalances and personalizing treatment in children with autism.

Conventional Autism Treatments

Medical treatment options are limited and relatively ineffective. Mood- or behavior-altering drugs are sometimes used. No medication has been found that will eliminate the symptoms of autism.

There are some behavioral treatment options for spectrum disorders that are always evolving. These are supportive services which don’t cure autism but may help support the family and assist with behavioral changes and development. These may include behavioral modification (such as Applied Behavioral Analysis), family support, and service delivery models.

Natural or Alternative Autism Treatments

Natural medicine treatment for autism is highly individualized. The diagnostic testing described above, as well as your child’s individual presentation, will help us to determine how to proceed. Please note that not all treatments will be recommended with every child or used at the same time. Natural medicine treatment for autism may include all or some of the following:

How Can Autism Be Prevented?

Because the primary causes of autism in children are not well understood, targeted prevention is difficult. However, naturopathic doctors work to promote wellness by supporting fundamentals of health such as diet, nutrition, and hydration, and to remove things that harm health such as digestive disorders, system imbalances, and environmental, and chemical exposures and toxicities.

What Should You Do Next?

The doctors at The Connecticut Center for Health are experienced in the treatment of autism. If you:

contact one of our clinics for a free autism consultation or an appointment.

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