Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain that causes restrictive and repetitive behavior, and is a condition of abnormality involving excessive preoccupancy with the self. It is indicated by an inability to treat other individuals as people, characterized by communication disorders, low attention span and mental focus .
The structure of the human brain differs in many ways from that of other animals. These differences are the aspects that are responsible for the advanced cognitive skills that are seen only in humans. In an autistic brain, the entire circuitry of the brain is periled. Such a situation causes uncoordinated movements, incapability of learning, and lack of memory and language skills. It also causes large moods swings and unacceptable social behavior. Indications of an autistic brain usually surface well before a child reaches the age of three. However, the causes behind an autistic brain are still not clear to scientists and doctors.
Autism is considered to be a genetic disorder. However, the genetics of autism are complicated and not properly understood by science. The link of autism to genes has been drawn based on studies carried out among identical and fraternal twins. If one of the identical twins is autistic, the other is most likely (90% of the cases) to be autistic too. On the other hand, this probability decreases to 15 to 0% in the case of fraternal twins. This, however, only indicates a genetic predisposition. Analyses of other attempts to link genetics to autism have been inconclusive. It is hypothesized that the genes are placed in such a manner that it increases vulnerability to environmental factors like exposure to toxins and viruses. It has also been argued that autism is a combination of three different disorders like social disablement, lack of communication skills, and repetitive behaviors, which have distinguishable causes and co-occur in certain cases.
An autistic brain is not characterized by individual symptoms. It is diagnosed based on a blueprint of symptoms. Apart from the most common symptoms like lack of communication skills, repetitive behavior and inability to socialize, there are other symptoms that exist which are generally independent of diagnosis. Symptoms like unusual sensory stimulation, atypical eating habits and sleep problems have been observed in some children with developmental difficulties.
Autism affects various parts of the brain, and parents normally notice signs in the first two years of the child’s life. It appears as a result of developmental factors that impair many or all of the brain functions. Autism is a highly-researched field of medical study and some of the hypotheses include:
- Too many neurons, which leads to increased connectivity between key areas of the brain.
- Abnormality in organization of synapses and dendrites.
- Unbalanced networks that excite or inhibit responses.
- Abnormal neuronal migration during early gestation period.
Autism can be managed for lessening family distress and increasing functional independence of autistic children. While early intervention may help in improving some of the abilities of the child, autism cannot be cured completely. Herbs and vitamins that promote mental focus are normally instrumental in improving brain health and maintaining concentration, but in the case of an autistic child, they are of minimal help.