Autism - Mental Disorders

Autism is defined and characterized most commonly as a disorder that impairs social interaction as well as problems with verbal and non-verbal communication. Also, unusual or repetitive activities are a common sign of autism. Although autism is diagnosed in both genders, studies show that males can be four times more likely to have autism than females. Studies also indicate that roughly 5 out of every 1,000 children will have autism.

Causes of Autism

Although highly debated, there is no conclusive evidence that points to a specific cause of Autism. Many common factors have been identified throughout the many autism -cases. These factors include:

* Genetics

* Genetics: Although there is no concrete evidence in the link between genetics and autism, those who have autistic members of their family may have a greater risk of having autism themselves.

* Vaccinations: There has been a link between vaccines and autism. Among several theories as to why vaccinations may be the cause is the theory that the MMR (Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine could possibly cause intestinal problems which could lead to the development of autism.

* Food Allergies: Certain food allergies, especially in young children, are thought to bring on autism in certain individuals.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Some of the signs and symptoms associated with autism include a major lack of social skills or inappropriate social behavior. Other symptoms consist of repetitive or unusual behavior or activities. Examples of this would be that a child may continue to place objects or toys in a certain way or order. Other symptoms may involve children having a difficult time sustaining or initiating a conversation with other children or adults. Those with autism tend to withdraw socially and have a difficult time making friends among their peers. Many times children prefer to play or be alone. A common sign also seen in children with autism is major melt-downs or temper tantrums if things donít go just as they would like during their play-time or other activities.

Treatment for Autism

Because of the complexity of the disorder, it can be difficult to diagnose autism at least early on, and has often been misdiagnosed with other disorders. Through a series of cognitive and language testing as well as other assessments, doctors can accurately diagnose the presence of autism. Like many other disorders, there is no proven cure for autism. The treatments that are available are to help with specific symptoms of autism. These therapies and interventions can help greatly. Medications are sometimes prescribed for autism, which typically include antidepressants as well as stimulant drugs that are used to treat hyperactivity. Autism is a disorder that is still not well understood. Funding for research has been on the rise and will hopefully shed some additional light on this complicated disorder.