Autism is a brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. The autism spectrum disorders (ASD) also include the related conditions Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS, which have fewer signs and symptoms.
Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and it is unclear whether ASD is explained more by multigene interactions or by rare mutations. In rare cases, autism is strongly associated with agents that cause birth defects. Controversies surround other proposed environmental causes, such as heavy metals, pesticides or childhood vaccines; the vaccine hypotheses are biologically implausible and lack any convincing scientific evidence. The prevalence of ASD is about 6 per 1,000 people, with about four times as many males as females. The number of people known to have autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice; the question of whether actual prevalence has increased is unresolved.
Autism affects many parts of the brain; how this occurs is not understood. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's life. Although early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help children gain self-care, social, and communication skills, there is no known cure. Not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, though some become successful, and an autistic culture has developed, with some seeking a cure and others believing autism should be tolerated as a difference and not treated as a disorder.
The Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program (ECPHP) at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA is a short-term integrated day treatment program for young children who have been diagnosed with, or may have, autism, developmental disabilities, and behavior disorders:
evaluates and treats children in a structured, individualized program
develops individual educational, behavioral, and social intervention plans for each child
provides family intervention to assist parents in understanding their child’s needs and manage their child’s behavior
communicates with school districts and regional centers to facilitate the child’s transition into appropriate educational placements and community services
In this website, there is a summary of the program and its facilities, its suitability and benefits to both children and family, how to register and guidelines on eligibility for health insurance cover.
A short-term integrated day treatment program for young children with autism, developmental disabilities, and behavior disorders
Discovery may explain why disorder strikes boys four times more than girls
UCLA scientists have discovered a variant of a gene called CACNA1G that may increase children's risk of developing autism, particularly boys. The journal Molecular Psychiatry publishes the findings in its May 19 advance online edition. Classic autism strikes four times as many boys as girls. When including the entire spectrum of autism disorders, such as the milder Asperger syndrome, boys are 10 times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.
UCLA scientists, in partnership with 30 research institutions across the country, have identified a new gene variant that is highly common in autistic children. And when researchers scrutinized the activity of the gene, known as CDH10, in the fetal brain, they discovered that it is most active in key regions that support language, speech and interpreting social behavior.