April 2nd is declared as World Autism Day, one of the only four official health-specific UN days. Autism is a neurological problem that starts during childhood, without any gender, race or socio-economic status discrimination. This year, the day will focus on the importance of empowering women and girl children with autism as statistics show that such female are denied even primary education when compared to autism-affected males, have a lower rate of employment in comparison with their male counterparts, face an increased risk of experiencing physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence than men and have great barriers in receiving sexual and reproductive health services.
Any Leftover Clues?
There is no one single cause reasoned out behind the development of autism in children and it is more likely a combination of genetic and non-genetic (or environmental) causes that result in autism. Mostly, autism runs in the families and when either of the parent is a carrier of the gene (even when they are not affected by autism), they are more likely to be passed to their children. When we say environmental factors can cause this disorder, we are talking about increased parental age (either parent), extremely premature baby, low birth weight infants or multiple pregnancies.
While certain studies tried to link vaccinations with autism, it has been ascertained that rubella, mumps or measles vaccines can never cause autism.
Signs & Symptoms of Autism
Signs of autism vary in every child, some might show signs within few months of birth, some children seem to be normal until after 24 months or so while some other children appear to grow normally until around their 18 or 24 months of age and then stop acquiring new skills. Common signs of autism at any age include:
The early the diagnosis, better it is for treatment. Parents, children and the therapist must work in synchrony to offer relief and behavioral therapy to the autistic child and make his/her quality of life better. In certain cases where the degree of the disorder is too much, the physician might add in some medications to bring down the effect. Parents too are given separate training sessions on knowing how to handle their children and make their life better. Autism rates are high in all countries worldwide and insensitivity or lack of understanding of the core problem can have devastating effects on the individuals, their families and communities.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.