Ayurvedic treatment for Autism

Autism

Know More on Psychiatry/Mental diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Autism Ayurvedic treatment

WHAT IS AUTISM?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or in short ‘Autism’, is a developmental disorder that involves multiple symptoms and levels of disability, generally in small kids but also in adults.1

People with ASD often suffer from continues social problems, and repetitive behaviors that hamper social and personal lives. The symptoms are generally recognizable by 2 years of age.1

Autism in Ayurveda can be correlated to Balagraha/ Jada or even as a part of Unmada.2 In Jada the buddhi (intellect) develops impaired perception, retention and recollection of the knowledge. A high prevalence of tama guna, either due to previous karma or other conditions at the time of fertilization, impacts the normal physiology of buddhi, resulting in its hypo functioning and the fetus is born with mental defects.2

Causes

Autism

AUTISM CAUSES

While the exact causes of ASD are not known, research points out to role of genes and environment .1

Following factors increase the risk of having ASD -

  • Male gender: Boys are more likely to have ASD
  • Family history: Having a brother/sister with ASD
  • Having older parents: i.e. a mother >35 and/or a father > 40 during baby’s birth
  • Genetics: About 1/5th of children with ASD also have certain genetic conditions.

Symptoms

Autism

AUTISM SYMPTOMS

Initially the symptoms of ASD are reported by parents or noticed by doctors in routine checkup. People with ASD show show 2 main types of behaviors. These are1:

  1. Restrictive / repetitive behaviors: These may include1:
  • Repeating certain behaviors
  • Staying overly focused on certain things like moving objects
  • Showing high interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts.
  1. Social communication / interaction behaviors: These may include1:
  • Getting upset easily
  • Making poor eye contact
  • Unable to listen to conversations for long
  • Non emotional response to others anger
  • Slow responses
  • Continuous talking without allowing others to speak
  • Repeating words or phrases newly heard

ASD show one unique characteristic, that often people with ASD can have some special abilities like high intelligence, good memory, strong in maths and arts etc.1

Diagnosis

Autism

AUTISM DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis of ASD is by observing a child’s behavior and development.1

Diagnosis involves a general developmental screening and additional evaluations with psychometric tests and sometimes imaging tests

Management

Autism

AYURVEDIC TIPS FOR AUTISM

Regarding the psychological disorders in children, Ayurveda indicates preventive measures not only post birth but also before birth. Even during the rtukala (menses), women are advised to follow certain dos and don’ts for an intelligent offspring.

Intellect promoting or Medhya drugs such as Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica Linn.), Yastimadhu (Glycirrhiza glabra Linn.), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia (Wild) Miers) and Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pleuricaulis Chois) are beneficial in these conditions.

Ayurveda describes Satvajya (counseling), Daiva Vyapashraya Chikitsa (meditation, worship chanting etc) that may be beneficial. Nasya karma may be beneficial; however it should be practiced under medical supervision only

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

During pregnancy, care must be taken to fulfill the dauhridini (wishes of the pregnant lady) in terms of food required.2

Satvic food should be used with focus on milk, ghee and similar products.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

Ayurveda specifically advises against consangious marriages to prevent the Jada in children and having unhealthy progeny.

For children who can perform them, some asanas that are helpful are as follows -

  • Suryanamaskara:
  • Pranayama
  • Shavasana:

FAQS

Autism
  1. Why is stress bad for my health?
    Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. If left unchecked, stress can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Some of the common effect that stress can cause but we may not realize are -
  • Headache,
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems etc.

Hence it is very important that stress should not be ignored as a condition and immediate medical support should be sought for it.

  1. What are the reasons for depression/How does depression happen?

There are no specific reasons that can lead to depression. Every person responds to any situation in different ways.

Yet, depression can happen to anyone and at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now being diagnosed in children and adolescents too. There are no specific risk factors, but following things increase the chances of someone to have depression -

  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Major life changes, trauma, or stress
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications
  1. What is addiction? How does it affect someone?

Addiction refers to the dependence on a legal or illegal drug, alcohol or medication. When addicted, people are not able to control their use of the substance, and may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Alcohol/drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and the law.

  1. Why do I feel anxious without any apparent reason?

While the exact cause of generalized anxiety isn't fully understood, it's likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include over activity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behavior or it may be genetic in origin. Often use of drugs, smoking or alcohol can be an underlying cause of anxiety.

However, many people develop anxiety for no apparent reason and it is therefore advisable to report it to the doctor and work towards managing the condition.

  1. Do children suffer from depression?

While depression is generally associated with adults or senior citizens, it is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety.

Children whose parents have depression are at a greater risk of being depressed. Depression in children often presents with irritability, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, Change in school grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school, change in eating habits etc. These symptoms should not be ignored and possibility of depression in such children may be considered.

  1. How is Bipolar disorder caused? Is it only genetic?

A lot of research in neuropsychology has shown that there is research has shown that there is no single cause responsible for BPD. Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increase risk. Genetics is just one of them.

While research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others, it is also seen that genes are not the only risk factor for bipolar disorder. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar disorder, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, despite the fact that identical twins share all of the same genes.

  1. Are phobias serious to a personal health?

Generally speaking, a ‘phobia’ is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance in the sufferer. Although many feel that phobias are harmless, they can be destructive to those who have them, causing the following problems that affect many aspects of life - such as social isolation, depression, lead to substance abuse, and may be the reason behind suicide too.

  1. Are there any specific herbs that are specifically used to improve mental faculties?

Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia describes the various herbs and their qualities in details. Certain herbs belonging to the class of Medhya drugs such as Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nordostachys jatamansi) and Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) are considered amongst herbs that improve mental faculties and should be used often as a part of diet and lifestyle especially for children.

  1. What are the common symptoms of dementia? Is any memory loss called Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. A common symptom is memory loss but it is not the only symptom. Other problems can be low thinking speed, diminished mental agility, problems with language, understanding and judgement.

People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities, and have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations challenging, lose interest in socializing, and aspects of their personality may change.

  1. I often forget things or important tasks. Do I have Alzheimer’s disease?

Occasional forgetfulness or missing things due to lack of concentration or time may not necessarily be a serious condition. But if you continuously forget things or tend to forget simple day to day tasks – this may be an indication of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Any progressive memory loss should not be ignored and bought to medical attention, even if it seems negligible or not serious.

  1. I had a road rage incident today, I feel nervous and afraid to ride on the road again. Why is this so?

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans, children, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, or many other serious events. This needs to be bought to medical attention and can be managed with counseling and therapy.

  1. What are the consequences of inattentiveness or weak memory of school children? Does this need to be cared for?

A weak memory leading to learning problems can have long term adverse social and economic outcomes. They include grade repetition, behavioral disorders, mood and self-esteem difficulties and school failure during the school years, and unemployment and poverty in adulthood. By using medhya rasayana, Ayurved promises improvement in working memory and improved grades ad performance among school children.

  1. What is post partum depression? Does every new mother go through it?

New mothers generally report ‘baby blues’ immediately after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks. But some mothers experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression (PPD). Uncommonly, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.

References

Autism
  1. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Autism Spectrum Disorders. Available at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml accessed Aug27th 2016
  2. Charak Samhita of Agnivesha. Vidhyotini Hindi Vyakhya- Sastry K & Chaturvedi G – Editors. Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011. Chapter 9.
  3. Charak Samhita of Agnivesha. Vidhyotini Hindi Vyakhya- Sastry K & Chaturvedi G – Editors. Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011. Chapter 1
  4. Sushruta Smhita. Commentary by Ambikadutta Shastri. Chaukhambha Sanskrit sansthana. Varanasi 221001. 1987,
  5. Nandar CK. Treatment on Autism according to Yoga. Acad Sports Schol. July 2014; 3 (7): 1-13
  6. Dabur: Ayurvedic products and drugs. Available at http://www.daburmediclub.com/product.aspx accessed on Aug 19th 2016.

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