Workshop on Autism and Special Needs Held

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Child Health Improvement Programme (CHIP), in collaboration with the School of Medical Sciences (SMS), has organized workshop on Autism and Special needs.

The workshop, which is the fourth to be held, had the theme: “Biomedical and Nutritional Intervention for the Special Needs Child” and attracted participants from Pre-Schools, caregivers and some medical personnel.

Autism is a whole body, multi system metabolic disorder which is also described as neurological and psychological criteria.
Cells within the body play an important role and affect persons with such disorders especially their gastrointestinal system. For example, a leaking gut can cause discomfort to a child with this defect could be seen throwing tantrums anytime the system goes wrong.If this is detected early enough and the right help is provided, the consequences of the disorder are reduced to the barest minimum.
Food and nutrition is also important to such persons since if the right food is not identified for them, it could also aggravate their conditions and they cannot therefore act well.

Speaking at the workshop, a clinical nutritionist and metabolic specialist, Peta Cohen said identifying and forming a multidisciplinary network helps to find support for children with such disorders.

The Metabolic specialist indicated that, children with Autism and other disorders were more likely to have greater intellectual disability and increased mortality than those without.

“Seizures range from 5% and 38% than observed in typically developing children”, she said.

Peta Cohen noted that although many deficits in Autism Special Disorder (ASD) were social and cognitive, many affected individual with ASD also have substantial Gastrointestinal morbidity.
“Major findings that may shed light on GI morbidity in ASD include the observation that children with Autism and GI systems show evidence of microbial deficiencies”,

Again Cohen said: “the reported prevalence of GI disorders in children with ASD ranges from 9-91%”. She said such children suffer from abdominal discomfort, constipation and persistent diarrhea.

She averred that biology was not part of the definition or prognosis in spite of the prevalence of co-morbid conditions, “no biological situation exits to identify autism at the moment”.
“Many of the co-morbid medical conditions can significantly impact health, development, social, education and daily living of persons with ASD”.

Again, she said many children diagnosed with ASD exhibited a wide range of co-morbid conditions including but limited to anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, bowel disease, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and immune disorder.

Others are neuro inflammation, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) Sensory integration disorder disorder, seizures and epilepsy, sleep problems and tuberous sclerosis.

Explaining further, she mentioned that anxiety disorders were one of the most prevalent co- morbidities in ASD which might exacerbate and at times drive the core deficits of ASD.

She noted that symptoms of ASD overlap with genetic, neurobiological and phenotypical symptoms of anxiety disorders.