What is Autism?
Autism, sometimes known as autistic spectrum disorder, is a developmental disorder which is usually diagnosed in early childhood. Because it is a spectrum disorder, autism affects every child differently. However, there are a few common symptoms which affect most children with autism to a greater or lesser extent. These symptoms include the following:
Some children with autism also suffer from learning difficulties, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are also common.
It is still not fully understood what causes autism but, disturbingly, it appears to be on the rise. Statistics show that autistic spectrum disorders now affect as many as 1 in 59 children, compared with just 1 in 150 children back in the year 2000. This means that there is an increasing demand for healthcare professionals to better understand the needs of autistic children and their families.
Kids with autism often experience the world very differently from their peers. They may have difficulty with social interactions due to an inability to understand subtle, non-verbal forms of communication such as facial expressions and body language. They may also struggle to interpret jokes and sarcasm, meaning that they may fall prey of teasing and bullying.
The fact that they do not “fit the norm” means that kids with autism often suffer exclusion from sports and social events. Since childhood is our first experience of social inclusion, feeling left out at this early age can lead to low self-esteem, which may cause anguish and suffering for a lifetime.
This situation not only impacts the child who is being excluded. It is also heart-breaking to watch for parents who only want their child to be happy and healthy. The siblings of children with autism also suffer, meaning that this condition can strain relationships and have a powerful negative influence on the whole family. So what can you do to help?
There is a real lack of conventional treatments which are suitable for children with autism. Therapies such as occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and sensory integration may help, but there is a limit to what can be achieved with these options.
In some cases, drug therapy may be used to treat the symptoms of autism. However, all pharmaceuticals carry the risk of side effects, and starting these drugs too soon can set a child up for a lifetime of chemical dependence.
When you take all of this into account, it’s no surprise that many parents are now seeking alternatives to these conventional methods. The good news is that more and more people are turning towards acupuncture to help.
Acupuncture can help with autism in a number of ways. Firstly, acupuncture treatment helps with issues such as behavior, sleep, mood, and the ability to cope with daily life.
A 2011 review on acupuncture for autistic spectrum disorders found that studies on autistic children and acupuncture invariably had positive results, with subjects showing improvements in both development and behavior across the board. And not only do autistic children respond extremely well to acupuncture, but the benefits are long-lasting, and the risk of side effects is low.
Acupuncturists also provide vital support for the families of children with autism, and offer a safe space for them to talk about their struggles. It can be devastating for parents to have a child who is socially isolated, so any treatment that can help a child integrate into society is a real blessing.
Finally, treating children with autism is an opportunity to educate their parents about the dramatic effects that changes in diet and lifestyle could have. The modernization of food means that it contains more sugar, additives, and colorings than ever before, all of which can make the symptoms of autism worse. Parents benefit greatly from dietary advice, and in most cases will be more than happy to comply with your suggestions.
With autistic kids, even tiny changes can have a massive impact on a family’s happiness, both now and in the future. Receiving the right treatment early on can help an autistic child to live a relatively normal life and allow them to thrive in childhood, rather than just survive it.
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