Autism is a developmental disorder that begins early in childhood. Symptoms vary for each person, as does the severity of symptoms. Hyperactivity is one symptom associated with this condition. Autism affects boys more often than girls and families with one autistic child have an increased risk of having another child with autism. Recent decades have seen an increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism.
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Some children may begin to show signs of autism in early infancy, while others show signs of normal development for the first months or years, then suddenly begin to exhibit the typical signs of autism. They might become aggressive, become withdrawn or lose language skills that they already developed. Some children with autism also exhibit signs of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
At least 13% of children with autism exhibit signs of ADHD, Monash University reported in 2008. The symptoms associated with both disorders hamper a child's learning and can disrupt their family and school life. Children who have ADHD along with autism typically have difficulty sitting still, are constantly in motion and are fidgety. These behaviors may be better or worse depending on the environment and external stimulation.
There is more than one mode of treating those suffering from autism with hyperactivity. Management may include special education, behavior modification, medication and parent education. Medication can be an important aspect of treatment. Stimulant medications such as dexamphetamine and methylphenidate are the most frequently used for the hyperactivity seen in autism. Monash University explains that these medications have been shown to bring immediate improvement in impulsivity, inattention, hyperactivity and a reduction in aggressive behavior.
Several medications used to treat those suffering from autism were originally developed for other conditions, the Autism Society explains, and may be effective in treating the symptoms of hyperactivity. When discussing medications with your child's doctor, ask some important questions, including: What are the side effects? Is monitoring necessary with this medication? What is the safety record of this medicine for children with autism? Are there any long-term consequences associated with this medication?
Since there is no cure for autism as of 2011, management is often geared to treating the associated symptoms and behaviors. Beside medication, behavioral and educational training is often a part of treatment. The training sessions, conducted by skilled professionals, seek to help with the specific symptoms and behaviors involved. A treatment plan that combines therapies geared to each child's specific needs is best. Some parents, looking for help with their child's autism symptoms, may try some as-yet unproven interventions. Eliminating certain foods from the diet seems to help with some children's symptoms. It is important, however, to make sure your child gets adequate nutrition when eliminating foods from the diet; discuss any proposed dietary changes with your child's doctor.