Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by difficulties with nonverbal communication, verbal and social interaction, and repetitive and limited behavior. Autism symptoms appear in children as early as two years of age. The child’s symptoms appear increasingly. However, some children’s signs may develop rapidly at first, only to regress later. The symptoms must be visible to the child before three for diagnostic criteria to be met.
Autism is estimated to affect 24.8 million people worldwide. According to 2015, 1-2 people in 1000 have autism disorder, which happens five times more often in boys than in girls. As of 2015, the statistics showed that in 1000 people, 1-2 suffered from autism disorder occurs more times in boys than in girls approximately five times. As of 2014, one in sixty-eight children born in the United States has autism (Wu et al. 327). This accounts for 1.5 children in the United States. The latest study shows an increase in autism from the last study which was done in the year 2012 that showed one in eighty-eight children born had ASD. Research shows that there has been an increasing case of autism since the 1980s (Eack et al. 2068). Some of the reasons given include that it may be due to the changes in diagnostic practices as well as government-subsidized financial incentives.
Effect of Vaccines on Autism
The commonly presumed thought about autism is that there is a common cause at the cognitive, neural and genetic level for autisms characteristics triad of symptoms. Lately, there has been a growing concern or rather suspicion that autism is caused by vaccines in children. One of the early vaccines that were thought to cause autism in children is TripedIa. The vaccine is administered in children between six months and seven years old. The vaccine was administered in five doses through that period. However, the vaccine started to be removed from the market as early as 2005 (Eack et al. 2072). One of the main reasons that medics and people thought it was phased out is because it was thought to cause autism in children. This is thought that has continued to cause debate among the people extensively. Parents have continued to be occupied with this thought especially for children aged below the age of one.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, however, states that vaccines do not cause autism among children. CDC defines autism as a developmental disability which is as a result of the differences in how the brain functions. CDC further states that as much as people have been having concerns about vaccines causing autism, there is no link between the two. Another study done in 2011 by Institute of Medicine (IOM) showed that among the eight vaccines studied or rather given to the children, the lot were safe except for rare exceptions, but it were not related to autism (Patel, Victor Colin 68). Center for Disease Control and Prevention carried another study in 2013 which showed that vaccines do not cause ASD. The research looked at the number of antigens during the first two years from the vaccines. The results showed that the childrens antigen for those who received vaccines and had ASD were the same as the children who did not have ASD. The study, therefore, concluded that vaccines do not have any connection with autism in children like the presumed thought by the people.
Thimerosoal is one of the vaccines that have been studied extensively. The vaccine is a mercury-based preservative. The vaccine is used to prevent the contamination of multidose of vaccine. Studied carried out showed that thimerosal is not linked with autism or rather does not cause ASD. In 2004, IOM carried out a scientific research about thimerosal which found out that there was no connection between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism (Geier, Janet and Mark 5190). For close to 14 years now, there have been various research funded by CDC that have found there is no connection between ASD and thimerosal containing vaccines. Additionally, other vaccines for rubella (MMR), mumps, and measles in have no connection to ASD in children according to these studies.
Thorough research has been conducted by different medics on some of the vaccines presumed to course Autism. In all the findings from the research conducted no one that showed that vaccines can cause Autism. This shows that vaccines have no direct relationship with Autism. Parents should not be afraid of taking their children to hospital for vaccination. Vaccines have a very great importance to the life an individual from a toddler to an old age as they give the body immunity to fight serious illness (Geier, Janet and Mark 5190). If people do not take our children for vaccination because of the fear of notion that it may transmit other diseases, illnesses that measles, whooping cough and mumps could become pandemic.
Causes of Autism
Research shows that no one specific cause of Autism has been identified by now. Scientists have identified some number of genes responsible for Autism though. It has been discovered that there are over 100 genes that can cause Autism. In all the cases noticed for Autism, 15% of the cases are caused by these Autism risk genes. The rest 75% cases of Autism have been caused by a combination of both gene and environmental factors that may impact early brain development birth (Patel, Victor Colin 70). These environmental factors include certain events that took place before and after birth. Some of these factors include: Giving birth to a second child when the first one his less than 12 months old and planning for a pregnancy when either parents or one of the parents is old. Additionally, it includes illness of the mother during pregnancy, a low body weight of the mother and difficulties during the time of birth of birth and difficulties and other complications during birth (Patel, Victor Colin 68).
Autism should be diagnosed earlier in children. The signs and symptoms associated with Autism vary widely between people. In some children, signs of Autism may be witnessed in the first few months after birth, but it may take more than 24 months for Autism to be detected in other children. Parents should be educated on how to detect signs of Autism in their children before the condition becomes severe (Geier, Janet and Mark 5190). There are some common symptoms and signs that parents should take note of and seek a quick medical attention for their children. One, the child with Autism may develop significant problems in social communication. The child has difficulties in the use of non-verbal communication such as; eye to eye contact, body posture, use of gestures and facial expression. This child may also have problems in establishing a friendship with other children in the same age bracket. He/she lacks enjoyment, smile, and interest in play. This child shows a lack of empathy or emotional reciprocity. It becomes difficult for a child with autism to understand how another person is feeling.
The child with autism develops qualitative communication impairment. This is signified by delay or total lack of grasping verbal communication. Some children may start communicating verbally but have problems with initiating or sustaining a conversation with other people. Lastly, a child with this disorder has a repetitive and stereotyped behavior, activities and interests. This is manifested in by at least two of the following four behaviors: Being preoccupied with abnormally restricted patterns and stereotyped interest either in focus or intensity. The second behavior is the development of repetitive and stereotyped motor mechanisms such as a twisting finger or moving the body in a complex manner. Third behavior is the child gets preoccupied with object parts persistently. The final behavior is adherence to specific, nonfunctional rituals and routines (Geier, Janet and Mark 5190).
Autism diagnosis should be carried out early enough even when a child as not reached the age of three. It is advisable for a parent to note how his child behaves as he grows up. This will help in detecting any abnormality very early and take the necessary measures. If a case of Autism is discovered, treatment should start right away. Even if the child does not develop to be normal like other children, the parent can give supportive aids to the child and change the situation from worse to better (Patel, Victor Colin 68).
Before taking some medication, pregnant mothers should seek medical advice. Drugs like anti-depressants, for instance, are seen to have a great association with Autism though it is not clear whether it is the drugs or the mothers depression itself. Another study as shown than the use of valproate, epilepsy and other neurological disorder treatment medication can also increase the risk of Autism if administered to pregnant mothers (Eack et al. 2072).
Pregnancy planning should also be considered for those who what to have Autism free children. It has been noted that pregnancies with a spacing of between 2 and five years apart result in the lowest risk of having a child with Autism. Statistics reveal that children conceive after less than 12 months have more than 50% risk of developing Autism disorder (Reiff 80). On another note, if a child is conceived when the parents are old, the chances of developing Autism are high than for a child conceived parents are young. One should work with the doctor to determine the appropriate plan for his family (Patel, Victor Colin 68).
Autism may also be prevented if people take care of their health particularly for the pregnant mother. Research show that women with severe illness or frequently hospitalized during pregnancy, are at a high risk of giving birth to children with Autism. Women carrying pregnancy should take the greatest care for their health not to affect increase the risk of ASD to their children. Folic acid intake boosts immunity and can help to prevent Autism. Expectant mothers are recommended to increase their intake of folic acid supplements.
To help in the fight against Autism, individuals should reduce their exposure to air pollution. Apart from Autism, polluted air may lead to other illnesses and body complications. A study carried out by Harvard school of public health found that for children born to parents exposed to high pollution levels, the rate of getting Autism was twice the number of children born to parents living in areas with minimum pollution. This shows that, the high the level of exposure to pollution the high the risk of conceiving a child with ASD (Eack et al. 2072).
Relaxing and avoidance of stress could also help reduce Autism. One should make good choices during pregnancy and avoid worrying about you unborn child because this can lead to anxiety and stress which acts against good mental health. One should stop going too hard on her and learn to accept that Autism mostly occurs out of our control.
Health Promotion Strategies to optimize wellbeing of an Autistic Child
Build health public policy
For an autistic child, the government should ensure that it comes up with a health promotion policy which combines diverse complementary approaches to health such as fiscal measures, legislation and the reduction of taxation for any activity relate to autism for instance drug, or license for therapists dealing with autism. The complementary change may include organization change. The health policy that the relevant authorities requires should consider the identification of obstacles to the adoption of these policies which will lead to better health care services for autistic children. These obstacles may be from non-health sectors. By understanding these obstacles, the relevant authorities should work on developing ways to overcome them.
Creating Supporting Environments
Creating supporting environment is a strategy that can be used to help autistic children. For instance, one of the aspects of life that make people have a healthy life is taking care of each other, the environment, and the community. By changing the patterns of work, life and leisure, a parent or custodian may change the life of an autistic child. Additionally, if an organization considers apparent that has a child suffering from autism, it can change her/his working pattern so that he/she can raise that child in the best manner possible. The use of technology should also be adopted widely to facilitate an environment that can handle the issues of autistic children. It is essential that these actions should be followed or rather strategies to ensure a positive benefit to the child as well as the overall public health.
Strengthen Community Actions
Strengthening community actions is also another strategy that can be used to help children with autism. This includes setting priorities and making urgent decisions about the impact of environment to autistic children. The community should be taught that instead of abandoning these children or assuming them, they should be helpful. This includes ensuring that they are happy at all times. Additionally, it includes creating facilities such as playground for the many children to play together without discriminating on the children. All the children both who are autistic and those who are not should be allowed to participate equally. This will help these children feel valued in the community.
Eack, Shaun M., et al. “Cognitive enhancement therapy for adults with autism spectrum disorder: results of an 18-month feasibility study.” Journal of autism and developmental disorders 43.12 (2013): 2866-2877.
Geier, David A., Janet K. Kern, and Mark R. Geier. “A Two-Phase Case-Control Study of Autism Risk Among Children Born From the Late 1990s Through the Early 2000s in the United States.” Medical Science Monitor: International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research 22 (2016): 5190.
Patel, Vinood B., Victor R. Preedy, and Colin R. Martin. Comprehensive guide to autism. Springer, 2014.
Reiff, Michael I. “Attentional skills during the first 6 months of age in autism spectrum disorder.” Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 24.1 (2003): 80.
Wu, Shunquan, et al. “Family history of autoimmune diseases is associated with an increased risk of autism in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 55 (2015): 322-332.