Last Updated : 12/25/2010
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Dr Ira Shah
Q. What is autism?
A. Most infants and young children are very social and interact with others. They smile, cuddle, laugh and play games. In autism, the child does not interact in an expected manner. Instead, the child seems to exist in his or her own world. The child has total lack of social awareness or interest in others and has problems in communication. The child will have repetitive routines, odd and peculiar behavior.

Q. What are the

symptoms of autism


A. Generally autism in a child is picked up at around 3 years of age. It is often discovered when child is not talking, resists cuddling and avoids interaction with others. Children are generally withdrawn, aloof and fail to respond to other people. Some times many of these children will not even make eye contact. They may also engage in odd or ritualistic behaviour like rocking, hand waving or an obsessive need to maintain order. Many times children with autism do not speak at all; sometimes keep on repeating a single word.

Q. How is autism diagnosed?
A. Autism is diagnosed on the basis of clinical symptoms. There are no tests for proving autism.

Q. What is the

cause of autism


A. The cause of autism remains unknown, although current theories indicate a problem with the function or structure of the central nervous system. The severity of autism varies widely, from mild to severe.

Q. What to do if child is having autism?
A. Children with autism need comprehensive evaluation and specialized behavioural and educational programs. In some cases, they may benefit from treatment with medication. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are trained to diagnose autism and help families design and implement appropriate treatment plan. Although there is no cure for autism, appropriate treatment can have a positive impact on the child's development and produce an over all reduction in disruptive behaviour and symptoms.

Contributor Information and Disclosures Dr Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai

First Created : 2/16/2001
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