Childhood psychosis is rare, affecting 40 per 100 000 children. Types of such psychoses include disintegrative (developmental) psychosis, in which a child aged 2-8 years, previously normal, becomes emotionally withdrawn, loses speech, deteriorates intellectually, and shows emotional and behavioural disturbance. Schilder's disease, lipoidosis, and SSPE (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, due to the measles virus) are among the causes of this rare condition. Schizophrenia occasionally starts in childhood.

Autism is believed to be associated with abnormalities of cerebellar and brain-stem function. Twin studies suggest a genetic predisposition. Prevalence is 20 per 100 000 children, and it is more common in boys. Learning disability, often due to a specific cause such as rubella, is present in 70 per cent of cases, whereas parental intelligence is in the normal range. Neurological impairments are found in 25 per cent, and 30 per cent develop epilepsy during adolescence.

Symptoms start within the first 30 months of life and include abnormal response to sound, failure to understand speech, either mutism or abnormal forms of speech (echolalia, nominal aphasia, or pronoun reversal), aloofness from people, and insistence on rituals and routines.

Autism seldom recovers and affected children often have substantial care needs, although their life expectancy is normal. The lower the IQ, the worse is the prognosis. Special education, behavioural methods, and psychotropic drug treatment may produce some improvement. Kanner's syndrome is autism with a normal IQ. Asperger's syndrome, or schizoid personality of childhood, may be a mild form of autism and comprises eccentric isolated behaviour with circumscribed interests and stilted speech: 'autistic traits'. The phrase autistic spectrum disorder may better describe the range of cases.

Understanding And Treating Autism

Understanding And Treating Autism

Whenever a doctor informs the parents that their child is suffering with Autism, the first & foremost question that is thrown over him is - How did it happen? How did my child get this disease? Well, there is no definite answer to what are the exact causes of Autism.

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