Definition: Autism is a general term for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviours. In recent times all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Symptoms and Treatment: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. However, symptoms and their severity vary widely across these three core areas. Taken together, they may result in relatively mild challenges for someone on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. Each child or adult with autism is unique so, each autism intervention plan should be tailored to address specific needs. Intervention can involve behavioral treatments, medicines or both. Many persons with autism have additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbance, seizures and gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Addressing these conditions can improve attention, learning and related behaviors.
Statistics: Disease statistics in Switzerland were analysed as MSI investigations exploring the specific neurophysiological mechanisms that are compromised in ASD is just beginning. Many of the regions known to integrate multiple sensory inputs have been implicated, including pre-frontal cortex and association regions of the temporal lobe. At the cellular level, post-mortem studies of ASD have illustrated that the columnar density in the neocortex is dense in autism, potentially facilitating local processing. It has also been hypothesized that the cerebellum, a structure that shows significant changes in neuronal density in autism, may play a role in impaired sensory integration in the disorder. This mediation could occur through atypical filtering of afferent inputs, although these exact mechanisms are unclear.