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Autism Spectrum Disorder

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Autism is a brain development disorder that leads to problems with language, behavior, and social interaction. A child with autism often has mental retardation. This means your child will develop or learn more slowly than others his age do. It may be hard to know how much your child's development and learning are delayed. He may not show clear signs of autism until he is at least 3 years old. He may develop normally for 1 to 2 years and then start losing skills. It may also be hard for your child to get along with others. These problems will continue throughout your child's lifetime.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.

Tests:

  • Blood tests: Your child may need blood taken for tests. His blood may be tested for chemicals such as lead or vitamin levels. These tests are done to check for other causes of your child's behavior and development delays. Blood tests may also show genetic disorders that may increase your child's autism risk.
  • EEG: This test is also called an electroencephalogram. Many small pads or flat, metal buttons are put on your child's head. Each pad has a wire that is hooked to a machine. This machine records a tracing of brain wave activity from different parts of your child's brain. Caregivers look at the tracing to see how your child's brain is working.

Medicines:

  • Antipsychotic medicines: These medicines are given to decrease anger and anxiety. They may also help keep your child from hurting himself.
  • Seizure medicines: These medicines may stop or decrease seizures.
  • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors: These medicines help decrease your child's anxiety and improve his mood. They may also help decrease behaviors that are repeated over and over.

Therapy:

  • Behavioral therapy: This type of therapy is done to help your child learn new skills. Your child may learn new ways to communicate. Behavioral therapy also teaches your child which behaviors are appropriate and which are not. Parents are encouraged to be involved in therapy to support and develop positive relationships.
  • Occupational therapy: A therapist will work with your child to help him learn common daily activities. A therapist may help teach your child to dress himself, feed himself, and how to keep himself clean. The therapist may also help your child learn to better interact with others.
  • Speech therapy: A therapist helps teach your child how to communicate. Your child may be taught other forms of communication besides spoken words, such as gestures.
  • Sensory integration: This is therapy to help your child if he has trouble with his senses. This includes being bothered by sounds or smells, or being touched. A therapist works with your child to improve his ability to cope with certain sounds and smells. He will also help your child learn to accept touch from others.

RISKS:

  • Your child may have side effects from medicines he takes to decrease his symptoms. Even with treatment, your child may not learn to get along well with others or do well in school. His language delays and behavior problems may not improve. Your child may not be able to live on his own as an adult. He may have trouble with even basic skills, such as getting dressed.
  • Without treatment, your child may not learn to communicate or live on his own. Your child may harm himself or others, and his symptoms may get worse. He may swallow objects. Swallowed objects may contain lead or germs that can cause illness or death. Your child may need surgery to remove swallowed objects. Feeding problems may prevent your child from getting the nutrition he needs. He may get dehydrated.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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