Autism is a type of brain development disorder primarily characterized by impaired communication, social interaction, and restricted behaviour. Normally, the symptoms are visible at the age of 2-3 years. The actual pathogenesis of this condition is not clearly understood yet, however, some experts say that it is a type of genetic disorder. In some cases, autism is strongly associated with birth defects and some associate autism with heavy metals or pesticide poisoning, and even childhood vaccines. The usual prevalence is about 6-8 per 1000 births, with boys being about five times more affected than girls. Although early behavioural therapies and cognitive interventions help children gain social and communication skills, not many children grow up to live independently as an adult.
Common signs and symptoms:
- Social skills:
- Fails to respond to any call – even her/ his name.
- Poor eye contact.
- Prefers to spend time alone.
- Language skills:
- Speaking ability is late.
- Loss of memory or cannot recollect words and its meanings.
- Usually develops abnormal tones.
- Keeps changing the conversation.
- Practices only specific body languages.
- Is restless, moves from place to place, and never sits on one place.
- Sensitive to sound, touch, or light.
Mostly, children with autism are slow in acquiring any new skills or knowledge; however, some children do develop normal to high intelligence (but slowly). They may learn the subject faster than other kids their own age, but the inability to communicate or the inability to practically apply their knowledge is commonly seen in all children with autism. Some children with autism are gifted with exceptional skills on specific areas such as art, music, etc.
According to researchers, families that have one child with autism have an increased risk of having another one with this disorder. Children with fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, benign tumors of the brain, Tourette syndrome, and epilepsy are at a higher risk of having autism. The offspring of older fathers have an increased risk for autism Common treatment available for autism
Behavioural and communication therapies
- Educational therapies
- Drug therapies
- Creative therapies
- Special diets
- Chelation therapy (Removing mercury from the body)
Ayurveda recommends the following foods for this condition:
- Oils and fats: Medicated ghee, olive oil, cow ghee (clarified butter from cow’s milk)
- Vegetables: Green vegetables and leafy vegetables
- Fruits: Pomegranate, mango, apple, grape, carrot, pine apple
- Spices and condiments: Cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, jaggery, unprocessed sugar, cumin seeds, coriander, ginger
- Pulses: green gram and white gram
Foods to avoid:
cheese, cold drinks, junk food, all types of meat, and alcohol.
Ayurveda recommends application of medicated oil as well as detoxification and rejuvenation therapies for physical and psychological improvement.
The detoxification therapies include:
- Oleation therapy
- Fomentation therapy
- Emesis therapy
- Purgation therapy
- Medicated enema therapy
- Medicated fumigation therapy
According to Ayurvedic texts, any disease that is not genetic or does not originate from the injury caused during pregnancy or birth complications are manageable with the help of a good physician, right herbs, and an efficient medical assistant. In view of this concept, autism is certainly manageable/ treatable by Ayurveda.
However, there is no documented evidence available for successful management of autism with Ayurveda or with any other Complementary and Alternative Medicine modality. The available data suggest that non-conventional therapies help and improve physical development and social development of the children with autism.
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