What is Autism?

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects children and is related to social behavior and the way people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Autism is generally possible to be diagnosed at the age of 2 years and is more common in boys in comparison to girls. The cause is yet not established scientifically though many theories and hypotheses are discussed. The condition is not curable but can be managed through an integrative approach of disciplined routine, family care, social conditioning, speech therapy, hearing conditioning therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy. Ayurveda has a major role to play in the management of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism is a “developmental disorder” because symptoms usually appear in the first 2 years of life. 

What is the prevalence and impact of Autism?

WHO estimates state that worldwide about 1 in 100 children has autism. Autism incidences have been alarmingly increasing since 2010. In May 2014, at the 67th  World Health Assembly, a resolution supported by 60 countries was adopted that entitles Comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorders. The resolution urges WHO to collaborate and partner agencies to strengthen national capacities to address ASD and other developmental disabilities 

Individuals and children with Autism have limitations and difficulties in communicating, interacting, and understanding how other people think or feel. They are sensitive to bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable situations, or changes in the environment. The condition affects a child’s normal life, education, and profession, and most of the time the child is dependent on the parents and family. The latter stages of an autistic person may be difficult if the support system collapses. Hence it is the individual and collective social responsibility of a citizen to extend support in Autism management at all levels. Ayurveda has a major role in this scenario 

What are the characteristic symptoms of Autism?

As per CDC or Centre for Disease Control Autism exhibits the following characteristics  

1.Limited Social communication and interaction skills that include  

  • Avoid or do not keep eye contact 
  • Do not respond to name by 9 months of age 
  • Do not show facial expressions and emotions for being like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age 
  • Do not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age 
  • Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age  
  • Does not share interests with others by 15 months of age  
  • Does not point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age 
  • Does not notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age 
  • Does not notice other children and join them in play by 36 months of age 
  • Does not pretend to be something else, like a teacher or superhero, during play by 48 months of age 
  • Does not sing, dance, or act for you by 60 months of age

2.Restricted or Repetitive Behaviors or Interests 

  • Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when the order is changed 
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (called echolalia) 
  • Plays with toys the same way every time 
  • Is focused on parts of objects (for example, wheels) 
  • Gets upset by minor changes 
  • Has obsessive interests 
  • Must follow certain routines 
  • Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles 
  • Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel 

3.Other Signs and Symptoms and Characteristics 

  • Delayed language skills 
  • Delayed movement skills 
  • Delayed cognitive or learning skills 
  • Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior 
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorder 
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits 
  • Gastrointestinal issues (for example, constipation) 
  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions 
  • Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry 
  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected 

How is Autism caused according to Ayurveda?

Majja or bone marrow is the essential element for brain development and is a maternal factor or is matruja bhava during conception. Dhee Dhruti Smrithi the components of brain development that translate as intellect, retention of learning, and memory are influenced and controlled by Atmaja bhava, or the emotional spiritual persona of the expecting mother. Stress, toxic exposure an unhealthy lifestyle of both the parents, and a risky unhealthy pre-conceptual and pregnancy that affect the mental health of the child are considered to be the possible causes of Autism illnesses in Ayurveda  

The clinical features of autism disorders relate to that of Unmada mentioned in Ayurveda. Agni at all levels of the primary secondary metabolism is also a contributing factor. Even modern theories have established the gut-brain theory in Autism 

What can Ayurveda do to manage Autism?

Autism management is an integrated approach of which Ayurveda is an integral element. A qualified experienced Ayurveda professional is a vital person in the Autism Management Team. Enhancing and maintaining Dhee the grouping power, Dhriti the analytical and reasoning power, and Smriti the retention and recall ability is possible through Ayurveda. Ayurveda can also contribute to achieving a desirable balance between the gut and the brain by stabilizing the Agni. The Dinacharya is very important for setting a healthy daily routine for the autistic person or child 

What is the role of Panchakarma in Autism?

  • Physical and mental detoxification 
  • Calm the agitated and aggressive brain and nerves  
  • Empower the brain and reduce memory loss, memory fatigue, anxiety, and depression 
  • Uplift all aspects of the mental faculty  
  • Promote intelligence 
  • Escalate learning capabilities 
  • Achieve Tridosha balance 
  • Optimise Agni 
  • Increase the mental quality of Satva, balance Rajas and Tamas  

What are the scientific studies in Ayurveda on Autism?

Introduction: Autism is a group of psycho-neuro-developmental diseases in which children fail to acquire social interaction and other regular motor and verbal milestones, and some developmental issues are suspected. According to recent reports, prevalence rates have risen drastically from 4-6/10,000 in the early 1960s to 40-60/10,000 now. According to Ayurvedic literature, Unmada is a term for psychotic issues that encompasses many mental conditions, including autism. Aims and Objectives: Critical review and analysis of the effects of various conventional Ayurveda treatment modalities in the management of Autistic children. Material and Methods: Various Ayurveda classics and studies published in journals, as well as PubMed, and Medline databases related to the effect of Ayurveda drugs, therapeutic process, and supportive therapy in the management of Autistic children, are reviewed and appraised. Review Results: Multimodal management approach of Ayurveda comprising the herbal supplements, Ayurveda Compounds, Abhyangam, Shiropichu, Shirolepa, and a very specific, controlled, and wholesome diet and Sattvavajaya chikitsa (Psychotherapy) with supportive therapy. These Ayurveda therapeutic approaches are used to manage autism concerning the psychosomatic disorder Unmada. Discussion: These treatments benefit autistic children by a different mechanism of action and improve their quality of life. Conclusion: Children with autism can become functional with the help of Ayurveda medicine supplementation, contributing members to their families and communities and their lives become better than before. https://ijpsr.com/bft-article/effects-of-ayurvedic-therapy-for-the-management-of-autism-in-children-a-review
The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder has increased to 1in 68 children. With impaired social interactions, impaired language, and stereotypic movements as the classic triad of the condition, this social stigma is known to have no satisfactory treatment options till now. Applied behavior analysis(ABA), yoga therapy, music therapy, nutritional modifications, and certain drugs have shown improvements in some aspects of the disease in various case studies but a significant result has not yet been attained. In Ayurveda, all childhood autism cases come under the category of either Vatakaphajaunmada or Vatapaittikaunmada. A case series was developed with 10 cases having the following characteristics. The diagnosis of all the cases was done with the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) and the treatment outcome was measured by the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC). Clinical features of Unmada were also considered for the diagnosis and assessment of all the cases. The Ayurvedic treatment protocols for the cases selected were according to Dosha’s predominance of the condition at that time. All of the children considered for the case series were receiving speech as well as psychotherapies and appropriate dietary advice and assessment was done after three months. The change in CARS score was highly significant at 0.05% level (P<0.0005). Also, the change in ATEC and sensory parameters was significant at a 1% level (P<0.01). The treatment has a significant effect on sociability (t=2.662, P<0.05) and physical features (t=2.436, p<0.05). Speech development was not statistically significant. This points towards the necessity of mainstreaming Ayurvedic treatment for autism spectrum disorders. M K, L. (2017). AYURVEDIC INTERVENTIONS IN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS –A CASE SERIES. International Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research, 4(12). Retrieved from https://ijapr.in/index.php/ijapr/article/view/535