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New Study Finds That Treating Autism in Infancy Could Prevent Later Symptoms

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A recent research team has found that there can be a significant reduction in the symptoms of autism if treatment starts early. This means treating children as soon as you notice autistic symptoms rather than waiting until the later years of their childhoods. The development of a new treatment is also underway as the study has determined that most children should receive therapy by age three, and to do so parents should utilize their children’s interests to gain optimal attention. This is different from other intervention methods, because in the past medical professionals wouldn’t begin diagnosing and treating until three or four years of age, but this is a problem because signs can appear by six months. Medical News Today reports: “The authors behind the new study believe that effective autism treatment is dependent on early detection, and that the sooner therapy begins, the better the chances are of preventing full onset of symptoms.”

The new therapy is titled Infant Start, and was developed by Sally Rogers as a treatment that encourages the imitation of sounds and actions made by the baby to teach and help your baby to grow.

How The Study Worked Out

During the study, seven babies aged six months to fifteen months utilized the Infant Start program over a six month period. During this time they were split into six groups ; children with older siblings without autism who are at high risk, children who are youngest with low risk, children who developed autism by the age of three, and children who showed signs of autism but weren’t treated until later in life. Each child was from Sacramento, California, with English as the main spoken language; normal vision and hearing were also a factor. The treatments used were issued over twelve sessions, each of one hour in length, which included both infant and parent. After this there was a period of six weeks where families were monitored on a biweekly schedule before assessments were made for follow up twenty-four to thirty-six months later.

What The Research Provided

Studies showed that children who received the intervention had more symptoms by nine months, but significantly less by eighteen to thirty-six months, in comparison with those infants who received no treatment until later. Those who took part in the treatment had less problems dealing with their autism later in life, and had fewer delays in language and development then any of the other groups which were compared. The results were published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, but due to the very small group which was used to gain information, it may not be as accurate as it could be in the future after additional data is collected and further research is concluded.

Possible Causes And Chemical Reactions Involved in Autism

There may not be one particular reason that children begun to develop autism, which is terrifying for parents, as one in every eighty-eight children in the United States alone is affected each year. New reports, however, have shown that there are some chemicals that might be suspected of causing autism symptoms which could result in learning disabilities and delays. The study on this subject was published in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives. Some of these chemicals include lead, which is a neurotoxin that can drastically lower brain levels in children. Mercury is another one, which can cause abnormal brain development; contaminated fish is the worst culprit for this particular contaminate. Hormone disrupters which can be found in perfume, soap, makeup and even vinyl products can stunt growth, cause aggression and lead to other social problems. Prevention.com says: “Trade your nonstick cookware for American-made cast iron or untreated stainless steel when cooking, and avoid furniture and carpet treatments boasting stain-guard benefits, which often contain perfluorinated compounds.”

Similarly, polycliclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as cigarettes, driveway sealant, and anything with coal tar used in the materials can cause slow mental development, particularly in fetus’.

Defining Autism

Every case of autism is incredibly unique, making it difficult to create a plan of action that works for all parties addressing every need that may arise. Interventions for autistic children and adults can involve various behavioral treatments as well as medications, which can work together or individually to address autism as well as additional distress that can accompany it. Autismspeaks.org explains: “Early intensive behavioral intervention involves a child’s entire family, working closely with a team of professionals. In some early intervention programs, therapists come into the home to deliver services.”

As children grow into adults, skill development will change, especially as a child enters and exits the school system. Targeting social skills may change into specialized teaching approaches and there are various services available now for independence as teens and adults with work opportunities and continuing education programs tailored to the needs of those with autism.

Treatments For Toddlers And Young Children

Early intensive intervention provides structured therapeutic activities over a period of a week, lasting twenty five hours. This is delivered by highly trained professionals, both as teachers or therapists, in offices or at home. Parents may be able to deliver much of the treatment themselves, or act under the supervision of a paraprofessional or autism therapist. There are usually specific learning objectives set in place and progress is aimed toward meeting objectives on a schedule which is recorded as progress occurs. Everything from playing to imitation and communication are covered in this therapy, and many programs also provide opportunities for children to interact with peers who are developing typically.