Thursday, February 28, 2008

Understanding Autism - Cause

What Causes It?

Autism has more than one cause. Because autism runs in families, most researchers think that certain combinations of genes may predispose a person to autism. It's currently thought that there may be several different causes of autism. This suggests that there may be several different subtypes of autism.
When a pregnant woman is exposed to certain drugs or chemicals during pregnancy, her child is more likely to be autistic. These risk factors include the use of alcohol and the use of antiseizure drugs during pregnancy. In some cases, autism has been linked to untreated phenylketonuria (called PKU, an inborn metabolic disorder caused by the absence of an enzyme), rubella (German measles) and celiac disease (an inability to tolerate gluten in grains).
Exactly why autism happens isn't clear. Research suggests that it may arise from physical problems in parts of the brain that interpret sensory input and process language. Imbalances in brain chemicals also appear to play a role.
Researchers have no evidence that a child's psychological environment -- such as how caregivers treat the child -- causes autism.

Some of the different types of autism

  • Autistic disorder - This is what most people think of when they hear the word "autism." It refers to problems with social interactions, communication and imaginative play in children younger than 3 years.
  • Asperger's syndrome - These children don't have a problem with language -- in fact, they tend to score in the average or above-average range on intelligence tests. But they have the same social problems and limited scope of interests as children with autistic disorder.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder or PDD -- also known as atypical autism. This is a kind of catchall category for children who have some autistic problems but who don't fit into other categories.
  • Rett's disorder - Known to occur only in girls, Rett's children begin to develop normally. Then they begin to lose their communication and social skills. Beginning at the age of 1 to 4 years, repetitive hand movements replace purposeful use of the hands.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder - These children develop normally for at least two years, and then lose some or most of their communication and social skills.


Autism - Symptoms
Core symptoms

The severity of symptoms varies greatly between individuals; however, all people with autism have some core symptoms in the areas of:

Social interactions and relationships. Symptoms may include

  • Significant problems developing nonverbal communication skills, such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions, and body posture.
  • Failure to establish friendships with children the same age.
  • Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.
  • Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person's feelings, such as pain or sorrow.

Verbal and nonverbal communication. Symptoms may include:

  • Delay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 50% of people with autism never speak.1
  • Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people with autism have difficulties continuing a conversation once it has begun.
  • Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously (echolalia).
  • Difficulty understanding their listener's perspective. For example, a person with autism may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.

Limited interests in activities or play. Symptoms may include:

  • An unusual focus on pieces. Younger children with autism often focus on parts of toys, such as the wheels on a car, rather than playing with the entire toy.
  • Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by train schedules, weather patterns, or license plates.
  • A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on driving the same route every day to school.
  • Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rocking and hand flapping.

Symptoms during childhood

Symptoms of autism are usually noticed first by parents and other caregivers sometime during the child's first 3 years. Although autism is present at birth (congenital), signs of the disorder can be difficult to identify or diagnose during infancy. Parents often become concerned when their toddler does not like to be held; does not seem interested in playing certain games, such as peekaboo; and does not begin to talk. They also may be confused about their child's hearing abilities. It often seems that a child with autism does not hear, yet at other times, he or she may appear to hear a distant background noise, such as the whistle of a train.
With early and intensive treatment, most children improve their ability to relate to others, communicate, and help themselves as they grow older. Contrary to popular myths about children with autism, very few are completely socially isolated or "live in a world of their own."

Symptoms during adolescent and teen years

During the teen years, the patterns of behavior often change. Many teens gain skills but still lag behind in their ability to relate to and understand others. Puberty and emerging sexuality may be more difficult for adolescents and teens with autism than for others this age. Teens are at a slightly increased risk for developing problems related to depression, anxiety, and epilepsy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Day She Arrived

It was in October 1995 when the big day happened... i gave birth to a baby girl, my only girl after 2 boys. Ive been praying for a girl when I learned that I was pregnant for the 3rd time and the prayer was granted! It took a week just to pick a name for her.... and finally Ive decided to call her Michaella... my princess.

For me, she was the most beautiful baby girl Ive ever seen, I cant wait to buy her bathing suits, I cant wait to buy gowns for her for "Flores de Mayo", I dont let her wear clothes bought from the market it should be from SM, as I look at my daughter everyday, who seldom cry, who doesnt scream at night, even learn to walk at 10 months old, and at 12 months she is starting to say some words like airplane (word with 2 syllables) never in my wildest dream there was something wrong with her.... after 1 1/2 years, everything has changed, all the things she knew and learned disapppeared, the signs are being noticed, no eye contact, does not talk she only screams, cry, bite, throw everything inside the house. Well at that time I thought it was normal and as a defense... she was late. On Christmas Day 1997, a relative told me to have her check by a doctor they were suspecting she's deaf, I know shes not, even without the doctors opinion but I also know there was a problem... deeper problem.

On January 1998 she was diagnosed having AUTISM a lifelong disability... that day was indescribable the pain was so intense my whole world collapsed... my tears flowed like a river I cannot believe that my daughter, my only daughter is autistic. I prayed like I never used to, if I did something wrong Iam very much willing to do it all over again, but nothing happened and to top it all up.. she was getting worst. Desperately seeking for help, I even pray to satan, I prayed to him like he is my God, no body knows about this, but yes I did, once in my life, for my daughter, I did made satan my God. At that time I dont believe on anything anymore, no God, no Satan... Iam on my own I have to deal with this all by myself.

I went to seminars listen to the speakers very carefully... I bought books about it. Went to Special School and enroll her, she was only 2 years 8 mos. when she was enrolled. We went from school to school, therapist to therapist. I met Maricon, her husband is a preacher and his son was diagnosed with a "global disability" meaning everything about him is wrong, the teeth, the eyes, his balance and everything about him, then I ask her.. dont you hate God for what he did to your son? she answered me calmly... why blame God for human nature??? it shook me... right there, at that very moment I cried and realized she was right, I dont pray that much and I dont even go to church, do I have the right to question him?

Now, she's 12 years old, I have accepted the disability, his brothers learned how to deal with her and I can proudly say she has improved beyond my expectations, her self help is excellent, she feeds herself (even cooks simple dishes) she uses the computer (shes always on youtube) she can read, she can do simple math, she speaks some words but cannot express herself fully.
The only thing that is bothering me... How will she be if Im gone?