Autism is one of the most researched and studied disorder in the field of Medicine today. This disorder seems to be increasing in frequency at alarming levels. However the answers to either the cause or the treatment seems to be 'so near yet so far'. Over the years I had the opportunity to see several hundreds of children with Autism and their parents, from several countries across the world. The happiest part of the entire dilemma is the growing awareness about Autism amongst parents and families. This is helping in an early diagnosis and treatment and helping in a significantly better outcome in the child.
The Golden Rule of Thumb is 'Earlier the Diagnosis and treatment start, the better is the outcome'. The best outcome is obviously seen in the under '5's. The answers to why Autism happens are Multi-Dimensional. We are still very far away from identifying a single causative factor. The focus is now mainly on Chromosome 16. But where in the chromosome amongst the millions of peptide links are still far from clear. However the best way forward is to first accept the diagnosis and get onto the multi-management as soon as possible. Investigations for a child with Autism either in the form of Blood tests or Scans is very secondary, unless one finds clear clinical signs or symptoms of an underlying neurological/metabolic disorder or syndrome. I come across many parents who go round out of their obvious anxieties looking for a 'miracle' and trying various treatments that do not have a scientific evidence and in the process wasting a lot of quality time.
The first step in the management of ASD/Autism, should always be an 'in-depth assessment/microanalysis of various Autistic symptoms' rather than a simple conclusion of a diagnosis of Autism. Each symptom should be analysed and looked for its duration and severity. Like for example analyzing the Gaze (Eye contact), Attention, Hyperactivity, Sensory-Motor Issues, Repetitive and stereotypical activities, quality of vocalizations, response to name calling, Intellectual response, etc. This process not only helps to streamline the Bio-Medical Management of Autism through its various stages but also helps the clinician to understand the good and poor prognostic factors in the overall treatment and management of Autism. It also gives us an idea about the total duration of 'Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA)' and other therapies needed but also the quality and types of therapies needed.
Individually tailored Home based ABA is also a key to success, as it is not just enough to send a child to a Special school and not do much at home. Home based ABA helps the child to generalize what they have learnt in different settings and with different people other than the Therapists alone. The biggest words in the Treatment of Autism in addition to ABA are 'Removal-Replenish-Recover' or in other words 'Bio-Medical Management of Autism'. By 'Removal' we mean the well known CFGF (casein free and gluten free) diet. By 'Replenish' we mean to replace the essential and lost nutrients due to the CFGF Diet.By 'Recovery' we mean to supplement and add all those nutrients that are vital for an enhanced protein and enzyme synthesis and stimulate nerves and oxygenate them better. Normally this can be worked in several stages depending on the severity and the quality of Autistic Symptoms. The point that all parents need to understand is 'Autism as a whole may not have a cure but if worked on a multi-dimensional mode as discussed above, a child can be brought back to as near normal as any other child of his/her age'.