DALLAS, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Autism is the fastest
growing developmental disability in the U.S. Researchers thought of it as a
life-long disorder, but that might not be the case.
Jack's mom Leslie knew something was different about her
"He wasn't making a lot of eye contact. He didn't have any
words," Jack's mother Leslie Griggs, told Ivanhoe.
Jack has autism.
Leslie said daily therapy sessions have made all the difference for him.
"He seems like he's more aware of us being in his world.
He's not in his own little world anymore," Leslie Griggs said.
While Jack has shown big improvements, a new study suggests
some kids may actually "outgrow" the disorder. Researchers looked at 34
patients with autism who were diagnosed by age five, but now appear to function
normally. The study found they no longer meet the criteria for autism. In fact,
in tests looking at socialization and communication, the autism patients
performed just as well as typical children.
"Now I can say
there's a chance that your kid might outgrow it," Dr. Chaouki Khoury, Director
of Our Children's House at Baylor in Dallas, Texas, told Ivanhoe.
Doctor Chaouki Khoury said he's encouraged by the new study,
even though the research did not examine why the patients seemed to "outgrow"
"How do you outgrow biting your nails? You learn not to bite
them. So outgrowing a behavioral problem is basically learning a different
behavior that takes over," Dr. Khoury explained.
Some believe it's the intensive therapies that cause the
dramatic improvements; others think the kids may be on a different part of the
autism spectrum that predisposes them to outgrow the condition without therapy.
Leslie hopes with therapy Jack will "swing" into even bigger
improvements and possibly outgrow his autism.
"Every parent, I think, hopes the diagnosis will fall off,"
Leslie Griggs said.
Researchers are now analyzing data to see if there is a link
between certain types of therapy and optimal outcomes. Based on previous
studies, some believe between 10 and 20 percent of children who were diagnosed
with autism may achieve optimal outcomes.
BACKGROUND:Autism spectrum disorder
(ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of
brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by
difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and
repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood
disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise
specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. (SOURCE: www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism)
CAUSES:Autism is a physical
condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. The exact
causes of these abnormalities remain unknown, but this is a very active area of
research. There are probably a combination of factors that lead to autism. A
number of other possible causes have been suspected, but not proven. They
body's inability to properly use vitamins and minerals
SYMPTOMS:Most parents of autistic
children suspect that something is wrong by the time the child is 18 months old
and seek help by the time the child is age two. Children with autism typically
have difficulties in pretend play and social interaction. A number of children
with an ASD do not like cuddling or being touched like other children do. ASD
symptoms may vary from moderate to severe; the higher the severity of the
autism, the more affected are a person's speaking skills. Many children with an
ASD do not speak at all. People with autism will often repeat words or phrases
they hear - an event called echolalia. (SOURCE:www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/; www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/autism)
TREATMENT: An early, intensive,
appropriate treatment program will greatly improve the outlook for most young
children with autism. Most programs will build on the interests of the child in
a highly structured schedule of constructive activities. Visual aids are often
helpful. Treatment is most successful when it is geared toward the child's
particular needs. An experienced specialist or team should design the program
for the individual child. A variety of therapies are available, including:
TREATMENT COST: Treatment is extremely
expensive. Direct medical and nonmedical costs can add up to as much as $72,000
a year for someone with an extreme case of the disorder, and even $67,000 a
year for those on the lower end of the spectrum. But there are a number of
governmental financial resources available and some organizations provide scholarships,
family grants, and other types of funding specifically to individuals with
autism to help pay for autism-related expenses. The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation
for Autism is committed to funding organizations that provide direct services
and family support grants to individuals with autism and their families.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Chaouki K. Khoury,
Our Children's House at Baylor
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