Jeremy Gerwe, MD, pediatrician, shares information during April, National Autism Awareness Month. In May of 2013, psychiatrists across the nation merged all of the autism disorders into one group –Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Currently, the prevalence of autism is believed to be 1 out of every 68 children.
What is Autism?
Autism is characterized by three elements that may be fully present, partially present or not present.
- Lack of social skills - those with autism cannot understand sarcasm or facial expressions.
- Communication difficulties –most people with autism have extreme difficulty with communication but do learn spoken language with therapy.
- Repetitive behaviors - these behaviors can take the form of abnormal preoccupations as well as hand flapping. Those with autism demand complete consistency.
What causes Autism?
In just the last five years, researchers have identified rare genes that are known to cause autism. However, in many cases, the cause is a combination of genes and environment. Scientists believe that people who have a genetic predisposition to autism area more likely to have autism when exposed to certain environmental stresses.
How is Autism diagnosed?
At this time, screening tests, such as the MCHAT, are used by pediatricians to find those who may have autism. Further investigation should be sought though. Local to Southern Illinois, Knights of Columbus in St. Louis combines a team of specialists including a speech therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, and a developmental therapist, to make the diagnosis.
Is there a cure for Autism?
Currently there is no cure for autism, but many scientists are working hard to find one. Nonetheless, health care professionals agree that early diagnosis with early intervention ensures better outcomes.
To learn more, contact Dr. Gerwe at St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Medical Group, 2 Good Samaritan Way, Medical Plaza, Suite 205 in Mt. Vernon, Illinois or go to the website or call 618-899-4040.