Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis
Autism is a syndrome of early childhood that results in a lifelong developmental disorder of the brain which interferes with reasoning, social interaction, and communication skills. It is usually discovered during the first 3 years of life, and it occurs in approximately 5–15 of every 10,000 births. Autism is 3–4 times more common in boys. Although the specific cause of autism is unknown, there appears to be a hereditary pattern in some families, but no gene has yet been identified. Autism is not caused by bad parenting, it is not a mental illness, nor is it a behavior disorder. There is no specific test to detect autism. Instead, a team of health care professionals using different diagnostic tools are required to make the diagnosis.. Although there is no cure for autism, with proper help, your child can learn to cope with the symptoms of this disability.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Your child may not show any signs of autism until about 1–2 years of age. The diagnosis can be suspected early in an infant who does not respond to the parents’ caretaking with eye contact, smiling, or cuddling. There is a failure to develop meaningful language and social skills. These infants prefer to remain alone in a crib for many hours, undisturbed and undemanding. Autistic children tend to be attractive and more graceful in movement, but their attention span is short. They are conspicuously quiet and passive if their environment is undisturbed and their activities uninterrupted. They have a strong need to maintain uniformity, and they may not make eye contact or respond to social cues. Many are overly sensitive to sounds, smells, touch, or taste and may prefer to be alone. They may lack imaginative play. Your child may have frequent temper tantrums with changes in the environment or routine, or for no apparent reason. Self-isolation, screaming fits, and rituals tend to become less frequent after 5 or 6 years of age. Some children are mildly affected whereas others have more severe symptoms. Some children
have been capable of normal school education after 10 years of age, and some adults with autism have held jobs and lived independently.

To date there is no known cure for autism, but there are many creative ways to help the child cope with the symptoms. These include music therapy, behavior modification, medications, and specific diet therapies.

The DOs
• Provide a highly structured environment with a strict unchanging routine that minimizes opportunities for indulgence in repetitive rituals.
• Enroll your child in a multidisciplinary treatment program.
• Investigate support services and local support groups for parents or caretakers.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t deny your child the opportunity to reach his full potential.
• Don’t accept traditional therapies as the only way to work with these children—be creative within a structured environment.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If you have questions about your child’s health or need information about services available for autistic children.
• If your child has any problem associated with medications.
• If your child’s signs or symptoms worsen significantly.