Autism and stress?
Autism is a problem which affects many. What is less commonly known, however, is that autism causes a lot of stress. This tress makes the symptoms of autism worse, which leads to even more stress, which in turn leads to even more autistic complaints.
Is autism and illness?
Actually, autism i not an illness in the strict sense of the word. An illness is something which developes at some point and can often be cured. This is not the case in autism.
Is autism a disability or handicap?
Autism is a genetically transferable handicap or disability. It is therefore not an illness. There are 9 or so genes which supposedly play a role in its development. Not everyone has all those genes. There are various gradations and combinations of these genes, and therefore the disorder is expressed in many different ways.
Can autism be cured?
At this point in time, autism cannot yet be healed. People are constantly looking for new insights for treating this disorder, but science has not yet reached a conclusion. This means that there is no proper treatment yet, while I do expect some breakthroughs in the coming years.
Can the hormone oxytocin cure autism?
Recently, Stanford University discovered that one out of 14 receptors for the communication hormone oxytocin is defective in some types of autism. Adding the hormone oxytocin in the form of a nose spray would thus decrease certain symptoms of autism. I personally as a doctor contacted the firm which brought the hormone in the form of nose spray 'Syntocinon' on the market to find out if there are clinical uses for it. Their main doctor wrote to me that they are doing many studies to research this, but that it is too early to conclude anything. There thus is hope for a breakthrough in this direction. A colleague and friend with whom I work, Prof. Carolina Remedi at Cordoba University in Argentina, confirmed that there are numerous positive evolutions in this aspect. However, it would still be too early to give any guidelines to parents or patients.
Can you treat the results of autism?
Yes, we can help people with autism a lot. The most important part of the treatment of autism is to diagnose it and to give the person and their family insight into the disorder.
Steps in treating autism
- diagnose the autism
- explain to the patient and their family what the disorder 'autism' entails
- explain to the patient that it is possible to successfully deal with this disability and that it is possible to function as good as normally with most types of autism
- explain to the patient that stress can worsen the symptoms and how stress prevention can help a lot.
- guide the patient by coaching to handle this difficulty in a better way
- follow a good self-help program to learn to reduce stress until the stress meters are back in the green zone
How does the online self-help program work for autism?
I regularly get feedback from colleague doctors who work with autism. They tell me that they prescribe the online self-help program '15Minutes4Me.com' often for two reasons to autistic people or people with the Asperger's syndrome, for example:
- because this online self-help program teaches them how to reduce their stress by themselves.
- because this program gives them structure. Often, people with autism look for something to hold on to or a structure, because the world often seems very unstructured due to their problem. The daily rhythm of working on self-help for 15 minutes per day, seems to bring them peace, which helps them to learn new habits. This regularity is very soothing for a person with autism.
Test how stress worsens autism
Do you want to know if stress worsens your autism complaints? Then do the free self-test here.
Paul Koeck, MD