Seeing Autism Through New Eyes
March 09, 2020
Submitted by Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care
Autism is a word that we are hearing more often, but what exactly is it and how can we understand it better? Changes have been made to term Autism Spectrum Disorder to umbrella a wide spectrum of diagnosis, from mild to severe. These include, but not limited to, the diagnosis of Autistic disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD).
Autism is a neurological developmental disorder that interferes with the person’s ability to process information and to interact socially. The condition was first described by Dr. Leo Kanner who termed the patient’s behavior as “automated” or self-contained. There is currently no medical test that diagnoses ASD. There is also no known cause for autism. Research leads us to believe that it is a combination of genetic, nongenetic, and/or environmental factors. Studies show that autism tends to run in families.
In 2018 the CDC determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). From 2012 to 2014 the diagnosis of autism jumped 15 percent. Boys are affected 4 times more often than girls (1 in 37 boys vs. 1 in 151 girls).
The symptoms of ASD begins early in life (2 to 3 years). It is not uncommon that the infant will initially behave normally but will begin to show developmental lags and autistic symptoms as a toddler. They then may regress developmentally and retreat from normal social interaction.
Autism affects the whole body. Persons with a diagnosis of autism are more likely to have GI (gastrointestinal) disorders, epilepsy, sleep disorders, anxiety/depression/obsessive compulsive disorder, vision, sensory disorders, among others. Language is also a challenge with approximately 1/3 of ASDs being non-verbal.
Vision disorders are more common in patients with autism. These patients have a higher incidence of refractive error (the need of glasses), strabismus (crossed eye), and poor eye movements. In most cases these disorders can be corrected with special lenses and vision therapy.
Regardless of what the eventual cause or causes of autism are, the fact is that the family of an autistic child must offer the child the best care possible. The earlier the identification the better. To accomplish this, it is suggested that the baby is carefully observed for any symptoms of ASD. After detection, a multiplicity of strategies should be instituted. These recommendations include medical (pediatrician/internal medicine), developmental specialists, psychologists, speech and language specialists, special educators, social workers, physical/occupational therapists and developmental optometrists. Current treatments and therapies for patients with autism may include medical, biomedical, sensory therapy, behavioral therapy, recreational therapy, and vision therapy.
The care of the child truly requires a team effort of family and professional care. To make the community more aware of ASD, a one-day conference will be conducted on Friday, April 3, 2020. The conference is being partially supported through a grant by the Essilor Corporation. There will be a three-track program that will cover presentation for many of the professions that work with ASD. Topics that have been confirmed to be presented include diet, exercise, speech/language, special education, physical therapy, occupational therapy, vision therapy, parenting tips and financial factors, including navigating the maze of insurance, both public and private.
The conference will be held at Crosspoint Church on Highway 589 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It will be free to the public for those who do not require continuing education credits. Continuing education credits will be offered for speech therapy, occupational therapy, and educators (currently pending).
If you would like more information you may visit the Facebook Page: Seeing Autism Through New Eyes 2020 or call 1-601-475-2020.
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