Autism is a diverse problem covering a wide range of symptoms from extreme behavioral and intellectual problems to high function autistics. What are the symptoms and signs of autism? What treatments are there and what are the facts about autism and mercury?
Symptoms of Autism
Most parents begin to notice problems with their child when it is eighteen months or two years old but often it is not until the child is four or five that autism is diagnosed. This can have a serious impact on the effectiveness of autism treatments. Fortunately researches are working how to spot the signs of autism in infants.
Mercury and Autism
For the last ten years many people have blamed mercury for autism, in particular Thimerosal, a mercury based preservative used in vaccines. Parents noticed that their children would start to show signs of autism shortly after they were vaccinated. However this is most likely coincidence as the signs of autism becomes more noticeable in infants at the same age as they are vaccinated.
There is no evidence linking vaccines to autism however there are some indications that mercury from their mother during pregnancy or the environment may be involved. Environmental poisoning can be directly from the mercury emitted by power stations or from food, especially fish. Levels of mercury in tuna can be dangerously high.
It may not take high levels of mercury to cause autism. Research has found that whilst there is no evidence for high levels of mercury in children generally, some children do seem to be more susceptible to mercury poisoning.
There are two classes of autism treatments: Mainstream and Alternative.
Mainstream autism treatments focus on intensive training to give the autistic child the best possible life skills. These give the children a level of independence as they get older and reduces the load on their parents and carers. Research has shown that early detection of autism followed by intensive autism treatment in the form of Applied Behaviour Analysis training or Developmental, Individual-difference, Relationship based training.
Alternative autism treatments come in a wide range of varieties, most with no scientific evidence behind them. The most famous is chelation, a process of removing heavy metals from the body. As a treatment for autism, chelation only makes sense if believe that mercury causes autism. Intravenous or oral chelation does remove mercury from the body, if its present, but there is no evidence that once mercury is removed that the symptoms of autism are reduced.
Other alternative treatments include sensory integration. This is a popular approach because a symptom of autism is hyper sensitivity to noise, light, touch and taste. Light therapy or sound therapy such as the Tomatis method have worked for some autistics but there little or no formal scientific evidence to support them. However they are not necessarily quack treatments as sound and light can have a positive effect on the brain. Some research shows that light therapy can boost memory. Out on the fringes of alternative treatments there are a range high dubious treatments such as cyanide and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
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