Autism: Ailment, Associated Treatments, And Rehabilitation

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The subject matter chosen for this paper is Autism. This paper is going to define the ailment, associated treatments, and rehabilitation.

According to the National Autistic Society (NAS, 2018.1), Autism is a ‘lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them’. According to Brill (2015), Autism refers to a group of neurodevelopmental conditions which is manifested in three areas such as verbal, non-verbal communication, social interaction, and certain repetitive behaviour. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines the ailment as a condition characterised by qualitative abnormalities in reciprocal social interaction (WHO, 2019). In the early understanding of autism, it was deemed to be an emotional response stemming from parental rejection (Bettelheim 1967; Kanner, 1949). Symptoms of Autism are normally detected at an early age and currently more men than women are currently diagnosed with that condition (NAS, 2019). The symptoms include unresponsiveness, focused or fascination with one subject matter, self-abuse and repetitive behaviour (Allman, 2010; Bonnice, 2015). The diagnosis of autism is normally through a multi-disciplinary team which will assess, test, and observe various psychological, neurological and societal traits of and individual (NAS, 2019). This will involve speech, language therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists amongst others. Finally the causes of autism include possible environmental factors, suggested physiological abnormalities, physical abnormalities, and genetics according to the Medical Research Council (2001). According to WHO (2019), previous causal association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine with Autism were methodologically flawed. Lastly individuals with autism might have co-occurring conditions, including epilepsy, depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (WHO, 2019).

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In addition, people diagnosed with the condition have sensory issues which can include over or under stimulation to sounds, lights, touch, tastes, smells, pain, and other stimuli (NAS, 2019; Spilsbury, 2019). People who are autistic also suffer from additional societal challenges such as recognsing, expressing emotions, gauging personnel space, and feeling overcome in social situations (Autism Speaks, 2019). Due to these illness, some individuals can be very violent, therefore institutionalised or heavily medicated and others can survive and manage their illness within the community (NAS, 2019). Over the years, Autism has been known by different names depending on diagnosis, this include autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism spectrum condition (ASC), classic autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), Kanner autism ,high-functioning autism (HFA) according to NAS, (2019) and Spilsbury (2019). Whilst these names or labels exist, family members, autistic people and other practioners disagree on how the condition should be designated according to (Kenny et al, 2015). Lastly religious, cultural, and societal discourses affect the diagnosis and treatment of autism (Hagan, 2018)

The treatment of various forms of autism can be either through medication, physiotherapy, diet, sensory management, and emotional support of patients. Some of the medication offered to some patients include the administration of opioid antagonist such as naltrexone, psychostimulants, (methylphenidate, mixed amphetamine salts) and serotonin reuptake inhibitors such fluoxetine, sertraline according to McDougle (2017) and Matson (2017). All these medications have associated side effects in different patients and some argue that they are not even effective (Stigler and McDougle, 2008). Other treatments of autism include hyperbaric oxygen therapy although it is yet to be established that it works. It is based on the theory that autism is influenced by occult inflammation and/or hypo perfusion of the brain (Kern et al, 2015). Dietary modification is another known treatment of autism however again its effectiveness has not been universally successful (Sturmey and Didden, 2014). The treatment is based on the research on how certain foods stimulate particular behaviour in individuals however this can be applicable to non-autistic individuals as well (Ibid). Other however argue dietary intervention can cause nutritional deficiency if not monitored properly (Ashley, 2013). Finally there are exercise based therapy that are often used to alleviate symptoms of autism and that include sensory integration therapy, aromatherapy, massage, and craniosacral massage amongst others (Burdick, 2014; Geslak, 2015). Finally individuals with autism have significantly limited capacity to conduct daily routine activities which can influence the person’s educational and social accomplishments as well as employment prospects (WHO, 2019).

In conclusion, autism is an ailment that affects various individuals in society and its treatment based on the literature referred above is relative to a patient and in developmental stages. 


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