What are the Causes and Care for Autism Spectrum Disorder? To begin with, it is important to discover the definition of Autism. Care depends upon the understanding of that definition.
Autism is a spectrum disorder. In plain speak, that means people who are affected fall somewhere on the broad spectrum known as ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some persons are minimally affected, usually persons with Asperger’s Syndrome which generally affects those with ‘high functioning autism’. A person who is high functioning is capable of dealing with most things in ordinary life such as driving, having a successful career, family, and so on. The principle effect on them is their difficulty with social interaction.
On the more extreme side of the spectrum, an autistic individual requires full time managed care and most likely will be incapable of any self-management. Today, such persons are often placed in managed care facilities, though in past they were permanently institutionalized in horrific places.
It could easily be said that no two persons with autism will be in the exact same spot on the spectrum. Each individual’s autism is unique to that person.
There has been much debate over the actual cause of autism. Some adhere strictly to the theory that childhood vaccines cause it, though autism existed in human history long before the invention of vaccinations. Others ascribe an environmental cause, suggesting that children are exposed to such things as pesticides, lead paint and other things. Again, one must consider the history of autism in human evolution. Others believe there is a genetic cause, which seems to bear the principle factor, as children who are twins are more likely to be autistic than non-twins. Other researchers believe digestive problems, perhaps developed in utero, may be the cause.
We don’t mean to take any specific position in the cause, and believe all the causes deserve investigation and consideration, and may contribute to an individual’s autism. Someone may be autistic genetically, and environmental factors or vaccines may trigger an added genetic action. We just don’t know and scientists often speculate to create the basis for research. Until the research is conclusive, we don’t believe anyone should take a firm, absolute stand on any one cause. An open mind is the best way to actually find a cause.
While it is critical to find a cause in order to eliminate or fix it, so that autism is reduced in our society, it is also important to understand that the cause of the individual’s autism depends largely on the individual themselves – their genetic profile, for example may determine the development of the condition in early childhood or slightly later, and the place it falls on the spectrum. Whatever the cause in an individual, we must not blame the child, nor the parents. Rather, it is society’s task to help care for them.
Care for ASD depends solely upon the individual’s place on the spectrum. Many high functioning persons can participate in every day normal activities in society. In fact, some of our most important business leaders, lawmakers artists and others are Aspergians.
Others, however, have extreme cases in which violence may be a factor in the rage expressed during an emotional meltdown. These individuals require extreme care, proper medication and in some cases, institutionalization even with today’s advances in medicine.
An effort is being made to help those within the safe range of the spectrum to live fuller, happier, independent lives in many parts of the United States and in Europe. In other areas, older thinking keeps the autistic in institutions while in some areas, autistic children are considered unacceptable, and either abandoned or murdered.
Even in modern American society, those with autism, particularly those who are fully or very functional are often maligned, beaten, bullied, mugged, raped, sexually assaulted and victimized by the less educated and uncivilized in our society. This should never happen. It does because the autistic are often weak, frightened and alone, making them easy victims of bullies and criminals.
Proper care must include protection, consideration, and in some cases medication to ease their social interactions with others. The most important care however, is that of the family, not just parents, but siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews and so on. Active participation in the entire family is important to strengthen confidence and interaction.
Part of an autistic person’s care includes the protection of their legal rights. That’s the role of Autism Citizen, which serves as the legal support center for autism. Parents and caregivers should be aware of the legal rights of the autistic, and how to protect them.
Autistic individuals share many common traits and behaviors. The worst of these is suicide. Often threats of suicide are verbalized though not carried out. This may be an attention getting behavior, but it cannot be ignored as autistic persons are in the high suicide range. The suicides may be brought on by stress, and victimization. When an autistic person has been victimized, and makes threats, take the threats seriously and make sure to get proper care for them and call for help.
We also recommend that parents and caregivers check the qualifications and credentials of any doctor or medical practitioner claiming miraculous treatments or cures. Traditionally, they prove false and can actually cause more harm by creating false hopes and expectations. It is important to consider that fast cures and treatments are not likely to fall outside the mainstream of acceptable medical practice. Take time, be cautious and be considerate of your autistic child or charge. Ask yourself what harm may come to them by these treatments and make sure it’s fully approved. Get second and third opinions before engaging in any cures or treatments. The best advice is ‘don’t allow hope to guide your decisions, only practical medicine’.
Remember, every day researchers are finding new things about autism. One day, there may be a way to ease the burdens of the autistic. New discoveries are helping the autistic improve their lives, ending the rigid beliefs that autistic persons require institutional care.