World Autism Awareness Day is remembered annually on April 2. Photo: Disclosure.
For a while, the lack of knowledge, research and information about autism were considered major barriers in the treatment of the disorder. Fortunately, currently, with the breakthrough of medicine, it is possible to obtain good results. Early intervention can ensure quality of life and even change the future of carriers of autism spectrum disorder.
Adequate treatment, as well as an understanding of the situation, supported by a good relationship with family, friends, teachers and acquaintances has a significant impact and can be crucial for patients to have an independent adult life.
Two pillars, the qualitative and persistent deficits in communication and social interaction; and what concerns restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities characterize Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to the new manuals of the International Code of Diseases (ICD).
According to Roberta Caramico Pinto, a neuropediatrician and invited physician from Prati-Donaduzzi pharmaceutical industry to talk about the disorder, “examples of qualitative deficits in communication and social interaction are changes in verbal or non-verbal communication”.
Regarding restricted and repetitive behavioral patterns, there are four main features:
- Stereotypies: they can be motor or verbal, so it can be a behavior like walking on tiptoe, repeating a phrase or words;
- Adherence to routines and rituals: being adept at an inflexible routine, that is, any unusual experience generates uncomfortableness;
- Fixed and highly restricted interests: interest in a subject or object that manifests itself in a very profound way, leaving the person monothematic;
- Sensory issues, hyper or hyperactivity to sensory stimuli: sensory changes that affect everyday life, for example, hypersensitivity to noise or light, causing extreme reactions even of a physiological order, such as vomiting.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that, worldwide, one in 160 children has the disorder.
Levels of Autism
Autism can be divided as mild, moderate and severe, however, within each group there are other divisions, such as a very mild degree or a slightly more to moderate degree. “That's where the name spectrum comes from. A way of looking like a ruler, in which there are several points, and not just 1cm, 2cm, and so on”, says the neuropediatrician. There are children who have mild symptoms of autism, and who are diagnosed at around 2 or 3 years of age.
Normally, the diagnosis occurs when the child enters school and starts to have direct contact with others. It is when the first signs appear, that is, problems in communication, difficulties in socializing and changes in behavior.
The diagnosis of ASD is based on clinical criteria determined by specialists and described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. There is no biological marker that can currently detect ASD, that is, there are no laboratory tests that identify the disease, such as blood, imaging or genetic tests. The most accurate way to meet the diagnosis is through a multidisciplinary evaluation carried out by professionals with experience in the area.
“There is no minimum age for making a diagnosis of ASD. We can observe warning signs even before the child completes the first year of life. Studies show that it is possible to diagnose ASD accurately in children under two years of age”, says neurologist Flora Brasil Orlandi, also invited by Prati-Donaduzzi.
Scientific studies show that the treatment of ASD shall be based on high intensity therapies with a specialized and qualified multiprofessional team, especially on techniques based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
In addition to ABA therapy, which is usually conducted by psychologists, depending on the need, patients who have the disorder tend to need therapy with the support of speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychopedagogues, among other professionals, in addition to the use of drugs. "It is possible to use medications to assist in the management of signs and symptoms associated with ASD, such as agitation, aggression, impulsivity, often helping to make the patients more successful in therapy", emphasizes Orlandi.
* This content is prepared by Prati-Donaduzzi pharmaceutical industry, which aims to bring more information about health to the population. The company also provides physicians with exclusive access to content on various pathologies, among other materials on the website: https://www.evolucaoparavida.com.br/.
Prati-Donaduzzi, a Brazilian pharmaceutical industry, is specialized and a benchmark in the development and production of generic drugs. Headquartered in Toledo, Western Paraná, it produces approximately 12 billion therapeutic doses per year and generates more than 4,500 employments. The industry has one of the largest generic drug portfolios in Brazil and it has been working in the area of Medical Prescriptions since 2019.