TREATMENT FOR AUTISM IN AYURVEDA
Autism otherwise called as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is one among the major concern of health sector worldwide. This is considered as a developmental or neuro developmental disorder which affects physical, mental and social development of a child and it is lifelong. This affects a child’s ability to behave in a society. With its holistic and authentic approach, Ayurveda gives new hope in management of ASD. Combination of panchakarma therapies, medhya aushadhas with yoga and diets will improve quality of life of autistic children to a great extent. Expert doctors at Sreerudra Ayurveda is here to help you.
Autism is defined as a complex neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction, developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors appears in the first 3 years of life
Even though Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) vary from one child to the other ,In general they fall into three areas
- Social impairment
- Communication difficulties
- Repetitive and stereotyped behaviors.
No single cause results in autism. Multiple factors are likely to cause autism but many are not yet proved.
- Genetic factors: Identical twins have more chances to develop autism. For example, if one twin has autism, the other is likely to have autism. Families with an autistic child are given an approximate 6% chance of having another born with the disorder
- Marriage between blood relations.
- Advanced age of parents: increased age increases risk of ASD.
- Exposure of pregnant ladies to certain substances like alcohol or drugs especially used for seizures.
- Exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins
- Some viral infections may result in ASD.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Three characteristic features of ASD are improper social behavior, difficulty in communications and stereotypic movements.
Improper social behavior
Most of children with ASD will have difficulty with social interactions. Some important features with impaired social interactions are
- Impairment in eye contact, body postures etc.
- Respond unusually with strangers
- No or little social smiling and other emotions.
- Child prefers to be alone.
Difficulty in communications
- Delay in language development.
- Persistent repetition of words or actions
- Unable to combine words and make sentences
- Flat robotic speaking voice.
- Inability to concentrate on a topic for a period of time.
Stereotypic movements and patterns of behavior
- Repetitive behaviors like moving hands or fingers
- Fixation of certain activities or objects.
- Specific routines
- Lack of coordination
The exact pathology of autism is still unknown. Many theories have been postulated related to pathology of autism, anyway studies says there will be structural and functional variation of brain in ASD patients. Motor and sensory functions of brain will be affected.
DIAGNOSIS AND INVESTIGATIONS
Autism can be identified in very young children. Different screening tests are available to diagnose autism. The screening is conducted in accordance with routine developmental surveillance.
Role of parents are key in diagnosis of ASD because they can observe their children than anybody else. In majority of cases, parents are the first persons noticing the abnormalities of their children.
Early diagnosis is very essential for further management.
Screening methods to check ASD are classified into four.
- CHAT : Checklist for autism in toddlers.
- MCHAT : Modified checklist for autism in toddlers
- STAT : Screening tool for autism in 2 year old
- PDDST 2 : Stage 2 pervasive developmental disorders screening test.
The screening test involves form of question and answers for parents regarding behavioral and developmental milestones of child.
Laboratory investigations don’t have much role in autism diagnosis. Still some techniques are used to elicit abnormalities. They are
- Genetic testing: carried to rule out chromosomal abnormalities.
- Metabolic testing : to rule out metabolic disorders
- EEG: Many children with ASD will have epileptic history. To rule out epilepsy EEG is performed.
- Neuro imaging to exclude those with disorders other than autism.
ASD cannot be cured, but through systematic treatment protocols,condition of child can be improved to a great extent. Management of autism is carried out in two dimensions, medicine and treatment.
Medicine: often given symptomatically
Treatment: Treatment should be given according to child’s need. Treatment design include
- Applied behavioral analysis
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech language therapy
- Training of adaptive skills
- Sensory and auditory integration therapy
- Music therapy
- Anger therapy
- Family therapy
AYURVEDIC ASPECTS OF AUTISM
Disorders like autism are considered as sahaja vyadhi according to Ayurveda which means diseases appearing from birth itself. These diseases arise due to factors transferred from parents and it can be considered as genetic disorders.
ETIOLOGY AND PROGRSSION OF DISEASE
Autism can be considered as a thridoshaja disease(disease occur due to vitiation of all three doshas) which affects prakruthi of body and mind within garbhashaya itself. Thamoguna of kapha causes vishada(depression),budhinirodha(problems with intelct) etc. Chala guna of vatha results in stereotypic movements. Rajoguna of pitha cause krodha(anger),self hurting nature etc. Ayurveda consider mind has both sensory and motor functions, abnormality of mind results in improper motor and sensory functions. Majja (marrow)which is important in development of masthulunga(brain) is a product of mathruja bhava(properties inherited from mother). So mental and physical status of mother during pregnancy can influence development of ASD. Katu amla pradhana aharas ,manasika vikaras like krodha,vishada,bhaya, improper dinacharyas of mother lead to thridosha kopa and vitiation of rajas and thamas results in disease development. Abhighatas, infections and poisoning of garbhastha shishu may affect mental and physical development of child.
This comprises both prevention and treatment methods
Ayurveda believes prevention of disease is more important than curing. For autism prevention can be achieved through three stages such as prevention before consumption, during pregnancy and after delivery.
Prevention before consumption include detoxification of shareera through panchakarma chikithsa, rasayana seva,manovikara niyanthrana(controlling emotions of mind) etc. Panchakarma help in evading impurities of body(vitiated dosha).Through rasayana chikithsa regeneration of healthy tissues occurs which help in production of healthy sperm and ovum.
Prevention during pregnancy include proper diet and activities mother. manovikara niyanthrana (controlling unwanted emotion) is more important in this period.
Treatment Methods (Chikithsa)
It include three categories such as yukthi vyapashraya,daivavyapashraya and sathvavajaya chikithsa.
MEDICAL INTERVENTION (YUKTHI VYAPASHRAYA)
It includes both internal and external therapies. Internal therapies include srothoshodhana, ghritha sevana and medhya rasayana. External therapies like nasya, abhyanga, shirodhara, shiropichu, dhoomapana, thala etc are important in management of autism. Among internal medication, medhya rasayana seva is most important.
SPIRITUAL METHODS (DAIVAVYAPASHRAYA CHIKITHSA)
Ayurveda consider spiritual well being is also essential to manage manovikaras.
TREATING MIND (SATWA AVAJAYA CHIKITHSA)
It means treatments to increase satwa guna of a person. Yoga and pranayama help in promoting physical and psychological health. Yoga therapy can improve social mingling and also it has a positive effect on CNS activity.
Ayurveda emphasize importance of satwika ahara such as shashtika shali, ghritha , ksheera etc in management of manovyadhis which helping in increasing satwa guna.Also advices not to take aharas which have katu, amla rasa and which are excessively ruksha since they increase thamo guna and rajoguna. Also they tend to vitiate thridoshas.
Autism is no longer considered as a disability. Instead, as a special ability. Autism is not only a disease confined to a particular person or family, society also has a big role in management because autistic children need special attention and care. Social awareness is most important. With its holistic and authentic approach, Ayurveda gives new hope in management of ASD. Combination of panchakarma therapies , medhya aushadhas with yoga and diets will improve quality of life of autistic children to a great extent.
Sreerudra Ayurveda is one of the most effective alternative treatment centres for Autism spectrum disorders. This Ayurveda Multi Specialty Hospital and Research Centre is located in Alleppey, Kerala, India.