1. What is Autism?
Autism is an intense developmental disability characterized by markedly abnormal or impaired development in Social interaction and communication.
It is associated with stereotyped behavior, purposeless monotonous hyperactivity with lack of interest.
2. What are the early signs of Autism?
The onset of Autism is within 3 years of life. But we can notice few signs and symptoms quite early in childhood like
- Child does not give an eye contact on calling
- Child does not respond to his name
- Child does not give a social smile.
- Child does not recognize family members
- Child is busy in his own world.
- Child looks at one object constantly
3. How to diagnose autism?
There are various criteria used in diagnosing autism provided in DSM IV & ICD 10 – diagnostic Manuals
- Difficulty with social relationships.
- Difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication.
- Difficulty in the development of play and imagination.
- Resistance to change in routine.
All these symptoms must have been present by 36 months of age
4. What is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)?
It is a disorder characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development such as social interaction skills, communication skills, or the presence of stereotyped behavior, interests and activities.
5. Which clinical conditions come under the heading of PDD?
- Autistic disorder.
- Rett’s disorder.
- Childhood disintegrative disorder.
- Asperger’s disorder.
- PDD not otherwise specified.
6. What causes autism?
In autism, there are one or several abnormalities in the brain, which are caused by one or several biological factors such as Genetic factors, Maternal rubella, Lack of oxygen at birth, Excess of oxygen at birth, Encephalitis, Untreated phenylketonuria, Tuberose sclerosis. This is known as “the biological theory of autism”
Serotonin has been found to be contributory in either genesis or maintainance of Autism. However, detailed studies have to be carried out to confirm this possibility.
7. What is the prevalence of Autism?
Prevalence of Autism is 1 child in 160 children. Male to female ratio is 4:1 or 5:1.
8. Do children with autism come from any particular family background?
NO. Autism has been found equally in all social classes and in all cultures. However a predominance of boys to girls is seen in the ratio of 4:1.
9. What is the level of intelligence in children with Autism?
When autistic children are given IQ tests, roughly 2/3rd of them score in the below average range. The remaining 1/3rd have an IQ in the normal range. So, autism can occur at any point on the intelligence spectrum.
10. In short, what characterizes the autistic behavioural pattern?
Social behaviour – unresponsiveness to people, lack of attention to people, reacting parts of people as detached objects, lack of eye contact, treating people as if they were inanimate objects, lack of behaviour appropriate to cultural norms, attention to the non social aspects of people, lack of awareness of the feelings of others, lack of social perceptiveness, Failure to develop a concept of mind – MIND BLINDEDNESS.
- Language – Abnormalities in speech i.e. they cannot produce sounds that are recognizable as words is called as FUNCTIONALLY MUTE CHILDREN. In those children with autism who do develop speech, a variety of unusual features are sometime (but not always) seen. These include Echolalia (words/phrases, which are echoed either immediately after they are heard or sometime later and persist even after the age of 3yrs),
- Neologism (coining new words to give meaning to things) or saying ‘you’ when they mean ‘I’ or calling themselves by their first name.
- Repetitive, obsessive behaviour – Lack of flexible imagination coupled with obsessive behaviour e.g. counting lampposts, collecting bottle tops etc. their play is very uncreative.
- Islets of ability – Children with autism often perform unusually well in drawing, music and calendar calculations. Sometimes they are the only skills a child has and sometimes they are even superior to normal
11. How to differentiate autism from a similar looking condition?
Conditions which are similar to autism include:
- Selective mutism (child refuses to talk in certain situation)
- Attachment disorder (child fails to develop stable emotional bonds with his/her parents possibly following abuse, deprivation or family problems)
- Mental handicap (all skills are delayed)
- Rett’s syndrome (hand washing and other odd movements)
- Developmental receptive language disorder
12. Whether Autism is curable? What is the prognosis of Autistic child?
The future of an autistic child depends upon many things.
a. What is the degree of mental retardation along with Autism?
Autistic children with normal intellectual functioning may be able to adjust with society far better than children with below average IQ
b. What is the degree of Autism like mild / moderate or severe
c. How early the disorder is diagnosed and what are the therapeutic interventions received by the child?
If the disorder is diagnosed early and child is given therapies like – occupational therapy with sensory integration, speech therapy, water therapy, behavior modification programme etc., the disease can be controlled at a very early stage and the future of the child can be made better.
d. Whether proper diet is followed by the patient
e. How early the homeopathic medication has been started.
13. Is it is possible to diagnose the severity of Autism?
After establishing the clinical diagnosis, we can utilize specialized tests like CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale), through which Autism is classified into 3 non-autistic, Mild / Moderate and Severe categories.
14. Can children with autism be educated? And how is this done?
Yes. Many institues now make provision for the special education of children with autism. One such institution is being run at Ghatkopar (East), Mumbai by the name of M.B.BARVALIA FOUNDATION’S HOLISTIC CHILD CARE CENTRE. It’s a unique centre for children where all work under one roof with a holistic approach.
Autistic children can be educated using behaviour therapy and parental guidance and counseling, speech therapy, sensory integration therapy, homoeopathy, special educational facilities etc.
15. What modes of therapeutic interventions are available for children with Autism?
Autism can be understood as a NEUROPSYCHIATRIC REGRESSION. As discussed earlier these children present with a myriad of problems. This demands HOLISTIC INTEGRATED CARE.
At foundation we provide following modes in an integrated way. Homoeopathy Occupational therapy sensory integration, Auditory integration, water therapy etc. Counselling behaviour modification Special education.
16. Whether autistic child can be transferred to a mainstream school after few years of Special schooling?
You can refer to the testimonials in our website. In our experience, after intensive Holistic Management we have been able to integrate number of high functioning children in Slow Learner Section and later in Mainstream School.
17. Whether there are any dietary restrictions or special diet for autistic children?
Yes, children are recommended GFCF Diet. That is (Gluten Free and Casein Free Diet) All preservatives and artificial flavored products should be avoided. For more detail you can refer to GFCF Diet chart.
18. What is Homoeopathy?
Homoeopathy is 200 years old system of medicine discovered by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann a German Physician and is based on Natural Holistic Form of medicine based on laws nature. Homeopathy takes consideration the person as a whole and the prescription is based on INDIVIDUAL FEATURES. So each child though having same diagnosis of Autism will need INDIVIDUAL Homeopathic Medicine. And that is how it helps in holistic way improvement is seen at both the levels physical as well as mental level.
19. What role can Homoeopathy play in the management of Autism?
Homoeopathic medicines do not act merely on any one particular organ of an individual but it has much more deeper and central action on psycho neuro endocrinological and psycho immunological axis.
Thus it plays distinct role in reducing or eliminating autistic features.
A. Homoeopathy works well to correct accentuated state of sensitivity bringing about good moderation. In Autism we come across impaired sensory defenses giving rise to serve disturbances of sensitivity.
- Some children show marked degree of hyper sensitivity to noise, light, touch etc.
- Some children show intense inclination for hugging and touching things, while others would be extremely averse to hugging and cuddling.
- There is marked impairment in processing of kinesthetic and proprioceptive sensation.
- Homoeopathic Materia Medica gives ample evidence of such symptomatology. When skillfully utilized, yields marvelous results.
- Autistic child quite often suffers from acute fears like fear of dark, crowd, gravitational fears (fear of falling down) etc. homoeopathic medicine helps to remove these fears.
B. Homeopathic medicine helps to improve fine motor skills as well as perceptual difficulties.
- Behavior modification through homeopathic medicine is an age old, well documented function of homeopath. These tiny pills work wonderfully to improve hyperactivity, tamper tantrums, self injurious behavior or destructive behavior.
C. It promotes the growth gradient and hence facilitates the process of development. Thus it has positive effect even in communication and language.
D. Act as immuno modulators and promote the general RESISTANCE POWER of the system.
E. Help in managing underlying neurological, genetic, metabolic problems.
F. DO NOT HAVE any adverse or depressing neuro- physiological side effects.
G. A carefully selected Homeopathic medicine brings about a qualitative change at a wide range of the spectrum in children with Autism.
H. It essentially helps to a great extent in behavior modification to reduce child’s hyperactivity, irritability, violence etc.
I. It thus prepares the child to receive other necessary experience for learning like sensory integration, special education etc. homoeopathy provides good support and makes the much important job of educators and therapists easier in taking the child further up on the learning curve.
J. Hyperactive children when they grow, they develop number of perceptual difficulties. These defects obstruct the process of learning bringing about varieties of learning disabilities / difficulties. Homeopathic medicines help to correct these errors.
K. Thus a harmonious coordination in a team of doctors, psychologist, educators, therapists and parent is a must in dealing with the spectrum of AUTISM in its entire range and depth. Each discipline has its own distinct role to play. Synergy results in the best results.
L. Sinc Autism has multiple dimensions, we can’t expect medicines to give any magical results but when utilized scientifically it has great potential.
M. Homeopathic physician’s approach is holistic. Hence he can develop better grasp over various dimensions of the disorder. Thus he can prove good coordinator in the delivery of multidisciplinary, integrated care.
20. What improvement can I expect in my child after receiving Homoeopathic treatment?20. What improvement can I expect in my child after receiving Homoeopathic treatment?
Homoeopathic medicines based on rational principles have a deep impact on the system.
When a child starts responding to homoeopathic medications, improvement is first seen at a general level. Child starts getting calmer, improvement is seen in sleep, appetite & bowel habits.
Next is the improvement in behaviour Reduction is seen in hyperactivity, restlessness, tantrums, violence etc.
Improvement in eye contact and ability to respond Further we see change in communication skills. He starts indicating and subsequently starts developing ability to speak words. echolalia improves too.
Obsessive behaviour takes a long time to improve.
Child starts showing improved general resistance. This is because homoeopathic medicines act as immunomodulators.
21. What factors determine the rate of improvement?
In most cases, order of improvement seen is as discussed earlier.
Best result are seen when we start the treatment at the earliest i.e. as soon as possible when the symptoms or signs are observed.
Improvement also depends upon the degree of Autism i.e. mild/moderate/ severe. Other associated conditions like epilepsy, genetic disorders etc also influence the outcome.
21. Can the child be given Homoeopathic medication if he is already under Allopathic medication?
If a child has achieved stability certain drugs for a long time like Antiepileptic drugs then they can be continued along with homeopathic medications. But if there are serious side effects or child is on some other allopathic drugs then it is desirable that they are gradually tapered off.
22. Can other therapies be given to child receiving homoeopathic treatment?
Homoeopathy works in perfect synergy with other essential therapies like sensory integration therapy, special education, auditory integration therapy etc. Rational and judicious coordination of homeopathic treatment along with sensory integration therapy makes tremendous difference to the management of children with Autism. Senior therapists and educators have often remarked that they have found that Children receiving Homoeopathic medicines are much calmer and easier to handle. They were much more receptive to therapy & educational inputs.
24. What are the various services M.B.Barvalia Foundation’s Spandan Holistic Institute and Holistic Child Care Centre and Special School provide for children with Autism?
Child with Autism requires specialized and intensive management. It requires a multidisciplinary handling. We work through a multidisciplinary team where all the systems work in perfect synergy to deliver Holistic Care. Team comprises of
- Clinical Psychologist
- Special Educator
- Occupational Therapist
- Speech Therapist
- Homoeopathic Team
- I Therapy
- Behavioral Modification
- Communication And Social Skill Development
- Emotional Expression Training
- AIT ( Auditory Integration Training )
- Water Therapy
- IEP Curriculum Planning
- Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy
- Relationship Development Intervention
- Social Worker
Child is examined by the entire panel of experts. We utilize specialized tools for diagnosis, gradation and affection of various systems in a child with Autism. Once the diagnosis and severity of the condition is established the team prepares a comprehensive management programme for the child. Parents are involved at each stage of the process.
Child may be enrolled in our Advance School for Autism, Following therapies are helpful to manage children with Autism
- S.I. Therapy
- Behavioural Modification
- Communication and Social Skill development
- Emotional expression training
- AIT (Auditory Integration Training)
- Water Therapy
- IEP Curriculum Planning