Autism is a developmental disorder which starts in children below three years of age. Usually these children have deficit in three major areas - communication, social relationship and some may have a disability with their intelligence.
Causes for autism are not known. It may be that certain nerves in the brain that are related to communication and language do not develop properly leading to autism. It is sometimes considered to be hereditary. Abnormalities of the brain due to injury, lack of oxygen or some other factors during birth can also be possible reasons for autism. Viral infections like maternal rubella or tuberous sclerosis could also be causes for autism.
These children have a list of behavioral symptoms such as:
- They would not make eye contact
- Would not respond to their names being called out
- May not communicate at all or use just a few words or their own language which is called neologism
- Show lack of interest in socializing
- Indulge in repetitive behavior or speech
- Remain in a world of their own
Medication is used to cure behavioral problems but not autism itself. Children who are very aggressive and have some behavioral disorder like head banging, spitting, biting and hitting or children having hyperactivity or ADHD autism may be treated with medication.
But autism as such cannot be treated with medication if there is no behavioral problem; the only thing that remains is training to learn adaptive behavior. Either these children are sent to a center where trained people to handle autistic children are present, or parents themselves are trained to handle them. Occupation therapy works and autistic children do get better with age.
As causes of autism are not yet established, there is no way to prevent it..