Autism 'big challenge for medical fraternity'
Doha, November 17, 2012
Autism, a developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life, remains a complex and incurable condition but scientists and researchers are continuing with their efforts to find a cure, said an expert.
Most parents of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) suspect that something is wrong by the time the child is 18 months old and seek help by the time the child is age two, explained Dr Haitham El Bashir, the developmental pediatrician and head of the Autism Program, Hamad Medical Corporation and Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q).
Dr Bashir, an expert in the field of autism diagnosis and treatment, was speaking at the WCMC-Q's monthly Medicine and U community health forum.
"Children with ASD present with symptoms that vary in severity from one individual to another and some patients may be highly functioning in life. The most common symptoms consist of underdeveloped interpersonal and social skills and impaired communication," he noted.
Dr Bashir pointed out that autism was a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. "The exact causes of these abnormalities remain unknown, but this is a very active area of research," he stated.
"There is probably a combination of factors that lead to autism although genetic factors seem to be important. Autism affects boys more often than girls. Family income, education, and lifestyle do not seem to affect the risk of autism," Dr Bashir explained.
According to him, treatments are often complex because all children or adults with autism are different and require treatment that addresses specific needs.
"It can involve behavioral treatments, medicines or both. Many persons with autism also have additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbance, seizures and gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Addressing these conditions can improve attention, learning and related behaviors," he added.-TradeArabia News Service