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Friday, April 8, 2011

Autism: From Accurate Diagnosis To Effective Treatment

Ricky Moss was born September 24, 1950 in the small town of Searcy, Arkansas to Pat and T.G Moss. Delivery was difficult because Ricky was lodged in his mother’s pelvic bones for a period of time before his doctor finally brought him into the world.

It wasn’t long before Mrs. Moss realized that there was something different about her adorable little boy. Even though he was growing in size, he continued to remain at the same level mentally and emotionally. Ricky was unable to talk.

He simply made noises, grunts or screams when he wanted something or was upset. If he was happy to see you, he would laugh out loud and show affection by laying his head on your shoulder or patting your arm. But he did not like to be hugged.

His mother describes that it actually seemed painful to him if she tried to put her arms around him. At first, Ricky was prescribed Mellaril, an antipsychotic drug and Haldol, another antipsychotic drug for behavioral problems. Later he was put on Ritalin, but Mrs. Moss asked the doctors to take him off of it, because it simply turned him into a “zombie”.

The doctors told Mrs. Moss that Ricky was nothing more than a shell, a vegetable and that he would never be anything more than that. But, Mrs. Moss felt sure in her heart that this was simply not true. Even when he was little, there were times when he responded in some way to things that she would say.

And there was a music toy that Ricky liked to listen to, although it seemed to make him cry. Who knows, he may have really enjoyed music, but maybe it made him sad that he was unable to sing or hum along with the tune. Ricky was at first diagnosed with severe mental retardation.

However, it would not be discovered until he was 27 years old that he actually suffered from severe autism. When he was a teenager, his mother read some articles on autism and she felt strongly that the description of symptoms she had read accurately fit her child. For example, Ricky carried and maintained a completely organized set of little boxes.

He had an obvious desperate desire to communicate but was unable to do so. But, when she presented her theory to his healthcare professionals, she was told that she was wrong. It would be another twelve years before he was accurately diagnosed as autistic and a new plan of treatment would be put into operation.

It was then discovered through his new treatment plan that Ricky could communicate quite well with the use of certain types of body language and sign language. Ricky was a lot brighter than most people had ever imagined! When riding in a car, he could correctly give his mother directions to a friend’s home using this method.

 His parents also realized that he understood a lot more than they had previously realized. On one occasion, while the family was watching television, Ricky’s mother asked his father to go and make some popcorn for them. After a few moments of his father failing to act, Ricky got up off the floor and went into the kitchen.

He proceeded to take out of the cabinets: the popcorn, a pan, oil, butter and salt. He laid them in a perfect row on the counter and then motioned for his mother to come to him. Pat and T.G. stood in the kitchen and stared at the counter in sheer amazement at this milestone in his progress.

How frustrating it must have been for him all those years when it was incorrectly determined that he had little or no mental capacity. His frustration many times would cause him to throw himself on the ground or bang his head against the wall. In 2002, at age fiftyone, Ricky died of liver cancer. If Ricky had been accurately diagnosed when he was little, would his life have been drastically different?

If only the medical society had known then what they know now about autism, maybe those close to him might have gotten a chance to know more about who Ricky really was. Recent discoveries regarding non-traditional treatments seem to be bringing dramatic relief to those who suffer from this debilitating disorder.

So what is Autism, exactly? Autism is a very complicated neurobiological disorder. It is actually part of a group of disorders known as ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorders. It is becoming a rather common ailment with 1 out of every 150 people being diagnosed with it. That is more common than diabetes, pediatric cancer and AIDS combined.

It seems to afflict boys more often than girls. The main symptom of autism is the individual’s inability to communicate and relate to others. They may also be very socially impaired, frightened around others or extremely shy. Other symptoms include being obsessed with a rigid routine or arranging and organizing objects.

An autistic person may display repetitive behaviors, like constant hand or body gestures, rocking motions or eye blinking. These symptoms can be very mild or extremely severe. Sometimes autism symptoms are hidden behind more serious and debilitating handicaps. Asperger's Syndrome, a close "relative" of autism, has many of the same symptoms and characteristics.

There are no medical tests that can be administered to check for autism. Diagnosis takes place by observation of symptoms over a period of time. Scientists are not completely certain what causes autism, but they have concluded that both genetics and environmental causes can play a role.

The Autism Research Institute believes strongly that environmental factors such as exposure to toxic substances and over-vaccinations of infants are key possible triggers for autism. This is due in part to the fact that the majority of individuals with autism do not present a strong family history of the illness.

Recent research also seems to support the environmental connection theory, stating that autism is a whole body illness caused by a biological brain disorder. There is at present no known cure for autism. However, there are treatment plans in place. And doctors agree that the earlier in life the treatments begin the better chance of improving symptoms.

Traditionally, these involve drug therapies and behavioral interventions. These treatments are none the less designed to alleviate only the symptoms of autism. Risperdal is one such drug therapy that many doctors are using in connection with autism. It has also been used to treat bipolar disorder.

The FDA recently approved its use in connection with treating children with irritability, aggression and temper tantrums. Originally, it was prescribed for people with schizophrenia as an antipsychotic drug. Parents should be aware that there are some pretty severe side effects with this drug, including weight gain, fatigue, rapid heart rate, dry mouth, respiratory infections, movement disorders, tremors, involuntary movements and muscle stiffness.

Another drug that is being used to treat autism is Secretin. It is a polypeptide neurotransmitter involved in digestion. Several reports have suggested that this drug may help alleviate some of the symptoms of autism. However, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the available evidence does not suggest that this drug is a useful treatment for children with autism.

But many times, parents are so desperate in their attempts to treat their children’s severe symptoms that they willingly to participate in these types of treatment programs. A fairly recent method of treatment that is gaining popularity is Biomedical Treatment or Intervention. Biomedical means the application of natural science to clinical medicine.

At this point in time, the American Academy of Pediatrics still considers Biomedical Treatment to be an alternative method of therapy. That being said, there is some pretty convincing evidence presented by thousands of parents as to the benefits of Biomedical Treatment with regard to the treatment of autism and other developmental disorders like ADHD.

Doctors and practitioners that promote the use of Biomedical Treatment consider the symptoms of autism to actually be an indicator of a more serious underlying condition. When the underlying condition receives proper treatment, then the symptoms of autism seem to diminish.

The program starts with a systematic examination of the child’s entire physical internal and external environment, starting with a gastrointestinal diagnosis to the regulation of the immune system. Metabolic and genetic abnormalities are also closely examined and treated with nutritional therapy.

More often than not, the child is put on a gluten and/or casein free diet. The system uses a combination of mainstream and alternative medicines to heal the child along with the removal of heavy metals in the body. These treatments are combined with behavior and social therapies among others.

Another therapy that shows promise is the use of Methyl B12 (a vitamin) and Valtrex (a prescription drug for the treatment of certain viruses). Dr. Amy Yasko developed this method that focuses on treatment of specific genes and the removal of viruses and bacteria in the body.

Therapeutic clay baths are also gaining popularity in the treatment of autism due to the powerful detoxifying effect that they claim to have. It was discovered that specifically bentonite clay draws out toxic chemicals and heavy metals through the pores in the skin when used in a bath.

It has also been reported that clay baths stimulate the immune and lymphatic systems and deep clean the skin. Since so many children today are being diagnosed with developmental disorders like ASD and ADHD and many others, there is certainly a need for something that offers hope to these desperate parents.

The information contained in this article was submitted with the desire to educate and inspire hope for a bright future for so many autistic children.
Reference:
Ricky Walked With Angels by Pat Moss Published by Harding Press, Searcy, Arkansas

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