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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

| July 18, 2017

Autism Spectrum Disorder – Causes, Reasons and Treatment

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is defined as a developmental disability that affects people’s personalities based on how they interact with the world (Magalhaes and Almeida, 2010). However, Sparks and Dager (2012, p. 187) defines ASD as “a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs one’s ability to communicate and interact with others.”

Various ASD definitions are known to be universal since they recognise it as a spectral condition (Baird et al., 2016). In his study, Umekage (2011, p. 25), indicates that ASD is a hidden disability coupled with foetal brain damage as well as impairment of neural vitro development. Characterised by interests, activities and repetitive behaviours, ASD is so complex that it varies from one case to another (Akanksha et al., 2011).

Despite various studies on the reasons, causes and treatment of ASD, there are relatively unknown rationale for its causes. Chandler and Baird (2015, p. 923) posits that people with ASD need different kinds of support since their ways of development and learning differ from every individual. The aim of this paper is to discuss the causes, reasons and treatment of ASD.

Causes of ASD

Although there are undetermined causes of ASD, scientists as well as medical practitioners believe that an amalgamation of genetic and environmental factors are the two major causes of ASD (Fitzgerald and Geschwind, 2013). To start with, the cause of ASD via genetic factors is not a simple process, but a complex of progression that involve multiple genes.

Causes of ASD – Gentics

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder

As indicated by Schechtman (2014, p.86) study, the rate of ASD development in identical twins as well as monozygotic is higher than rates in dizygotic and same-sex fraternal twins. This indicates that fraternal twins only share some genes, while identical twins have equal genes and therefore genes contributes much to autism. More so, Brothers as well as sisters of children with autism have high level of autism (Fitzgerald and Geschwind, 2013). From another perspective, Smith and John (2011, p. 803) in their research attributed that siblings share certain problems such as language as well as learning difficulties if one of the sibling has autism. However, it is not clear if autism is inherited as well as more general predisposition difficulties.

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Causes of ASD – Environmental Factors

Secondly, ASD can be caused by environmental factors. Environmental toxins such as mercury and thimerosoal vaccines cause autism stems (Mercer et al., 2016). More so, congenital rubella infection is one of the environmental factors that cause ASD. However, Goin-Kochel and Myers (2015, p. 172) disputes that there is any clarity environmental factors causing ASD and therefore more studies needs to be done. Rich and Isager (2012, p. 410) adds “some of the evidence proposed for environmental factors is based on case reports, which are often difficult to interpret.”

Reasons for ASD

ASD as mentioned earlier, ASD can be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors, however, we have reasons ASD occurs. First, Autism exists when a single gene known as fragile X syndrome (FXS) exists in the blood (Hessl and Schneider, 2013). FXS is defined as a syndrome that is coupled with autism as well as intellectual disability (Visootsak and Picker, 2015). As per Wehner and Hagerman (2011, p. 415), “Whereas ASD is a behavioural diagnosis, FXS is a medical, or more accurately, a genetic diagnosis and therefore when associated with FXS, ASD is caused by the genetic change or mutation in the Fragile X gene.”

This alters normal blood circulation, hence ASD. Secondly, individuals are affected by ASD when tuberous sclerosis, chromosome 15q and other genetic conditions subsist (Hessl and Schneider, 2013).

ASD Treatment – Medications

Core symptoms associated with ASD have no medication and cure, but we have medications that help to manage high energy levels of ASD, seizures, inability to focus as well as depression symptoms (Burrell and Borrego, 2012).

The first treatment method utilised during ASD is the early intervention service. This method improves individual’s development, especially children with ASD (Buitelaar and Wong, 2014). These services, such as vitamin therapy, auditory training, facilitated communication and physical therapy improve children talk, interaction and walk.

Early intervention services attribute the theory of mind as an explanatory ASD theory that reflects on the symptom criteria (A) of the DSM-5. As per Gallese and Goldman (2012, p. 496), the theory of mind was created by Uta Frith, Alan Leslie and Simon Baron-Cohen in 1985 to explain communication persistence as well as social interaction for people with ASD.

ASD Treatment – Behaviours and Communication

The second method used for ASD treatment is the behaviours and communication approaches. This method involves direct, organised and structural ways for people with ASD to participate in a given paediatric events and medication. As per Burrell and Borrego (2012, p. 424), applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is utilised as a treatment of ASD via behaviour and communication approach to encourage positive and discourage negative behaviours hence improving various skills needed during ASD treatment.

This is in relation to the theory of executive dysfunction which states, “Executive functions (EF) are a set of cognitive skills that are put into practice through autonomous activities.” Most of these EF skills are utilised by ASD patients to boost their flexibility, organisation, objectives and goals, anticipation as well as to be able to control their impulses (Buitelaar and Wong, 2014). Thirdly, ASD can be treated through dietary approaches.

Change in diet, such as using certain foods, mineral supplements and vitamin helps to treat certain ASD effects. However, Talalay and Zimmerman (2014) posit that although dietary approach is considered as one of the ASD treatment, there is no scientific support and recommendation.

Finally, ASD can be treated using complementary and alternative treatments. Treatments associated with complementary and alternative approaches include chelation, biological such as secretin, special diets and body-based systems (Burrell and Borrego, 2012).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the aim of this paper was to discuss the causes, reasons and treatment of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Being a hidden disability coupled with foetal brain damage as well as impairment of neural vitro development, ASD has varied and complex behaviours hence there is unknown treatment for core symptoms.

Generally, ASD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors such as genes inheritance and environmental toxins respectively. Some of the treatments for ASD as discussed included the used of the early intervention services, the behaviours and communication approaches, dietary approaches and complementary and alternative treatments. Characterised by interests, activities and repetitive behaviours, ASD is so complex that it varies from one case to another and therefore its treatments depends on an individual case.

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Bibliography

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Baird, G., Simonoff, E. and Charman, T. (2016) “Prevalence of disorders of the autism spectrum in a population cohort of children in South Thames: the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP).” The lancet, 368(9531), pp.210-215.

Burrell, L. and Borrego, J. (2012) “Parents’ Involvement in ASD Treatment: What Is Their  Role?.” Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19(3), pp.423-432.

Buitelaar, K. and Wong, C. (2014) “Psychopharmacological prescriptions for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD): a multinational study.” Psychopharmacology, 231(6), pp.999-1009.

Chandler, S. and Baird, G. (2015) “Psychiatric disorders in children with autism spectrum disorders: prevalence, comorbidity, and associated factors in a population-derived sample.” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 47(8), pp.921-929.

Fitzgerald, R. and Geschwind, D. (2013) “Autism recurrence in half siblings: strong support for genetic mechanisms of transmission in ASD.” Molecular psychiatry, 18(2), p.137-   140.

Goin-Kochel, P. and Myers, B. (2015) “Congenital versus regressive onset of autism spectrum disorders: Parents’ beliefs about causes.” Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 20(3), pp.169-179.

Gallese, V. and Goldman, A. (2012) “Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind-reading.” Trends in cognitive sciences, 2(12), pp.493-501.

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Magalhaes, T. and Almeida, J. (2010) “Functional impact of global rare copy number variation in autism spectrum disorder.” Nature, 466(7304), pp.368-401.

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