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Assessing Autism The Buddhi Way

Autism is a developmental disorder, extensively studied and given due attention in the 40s by two clinician-scientists Leo Kanner and Johann ‘Hans’ Friedrich Karl Asperger. Autism is a lifelong disorder which leaves a profound effect on individuals and their families.

Essentially a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, autism presents with impairments in language, communication, cognition, emotional expression & socialisation and seemingly meaningless repetitive behaviours. Autism is understood today as a spectrum disorder, and may differ from child to child. Some children may showcase mild symptoms, while others might display severe Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms and signs.

These conditions can be severe to mild, affecting the individual’s speech and learning abilities, sometimes both, sometimes just one. Some of the conditions in the spectrum include autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and Asperger Syndrome.

Understanding the screening and diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Assessing an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder can be difficult, especially when they are children. Doctors and psychologists assess a child’s behaviour and development in order to make a diagnosis. More often than not, children usually get an official diagnosis when they are older. The assessment for ASD involves ‘Developmental Screening’ and ‘Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation’.

What is Developmental Screening?

Children between the ages of 2-4 years can get a screening for any developmental delays. This is based on what the parents have noticed and observed their child’s understanding and learning abilities. Developmental screening recognises and identifies problems to assess any delay in the child’s learning abilities or behavioural problems. This is extremely critical for children right from the age of 9 months to 30 months. If the doctor finds any developmental delays, the child will have to continue visiting the doctor periodically until they can find a solution.

What is a Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation?

A Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation is the second step in the path to diagnosis. This includes a review of the child’s behaviour, speaking to the parents, and will include additional tests related to vision, hearing, genetics, and neurological assessment. Doctors specialising in this field are part of the assessment such as child psychologists, child neurologists, child psychotherapists, and developmental paediatrician.

Integrated Assessments for Autism Spectrum Disorder

At Buddhi Clinic we take an unique approach to Autism assessment and diagnosis. Apart from the Neuropsychiatrist/ Child Psychiatrist, the Clinical Psychologist, Neurodevelopmental Therapist, Ayurveda and Naturopathy doctors, all perform structured clinical assessments with the child and family. Children also have blood samples withdrawn, both those that assess general health and those that are specific to some of the symptoms that constitute the autism spectrum. In the Nerve Lab, children and adolescents undergo brain mapping and electroencephalography studies, which contribute to a biological understanding. And in our Neuromodulation lab they are assessed for suitability and threshold, rTMS and tDCS being techniques available for use.

The psychological assessment scales by Buddhi Clinic include:

  1. Developmental Screening Test
  2. Indian Scale for Assessment of Autism (ISAA) - an efficient validated screening tool for the diagnosis of ASD for Indian children between 3-9 years of age. This test also points to the severity of ASD. 
  3. Vineland Social Maturity Scale (VSMS) - is measured in the child’s ability in 8 domains such as self-help, eating, dressing, self-direction, occupation, communication, locomotion and socialisation.
  4. Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) - focuses on questions pertaining to emotions such as anxiety, depression, social problems, thought problems, etc. to understand their behaviour better.

In addition, the the neurodevelopmental assessment is completed using the Gessel scales, Ayurveda assessments address Prakriti and doshas, and Naturopathy assessments include the chakra diagnosis.

Post assessment care planning:

At Buddhi Clinic the comprehensive intake assessment lays the foundation for our integrated care approach. Typically this involves a combination of treatments with behavioural management, neurodevelopment therapy, holistic therapies for sleep, digestion, pain and other co-morbidities and neuromodulation for cognition and behaviour, delivered in a pre-programmed sequence. At each stage, clinical case conferences with the doctor will help to enhance outcomes and clarify concerns. The use of medication, when required, is also discussed by the doctor, with inputs from the team.

Individuals with ASDs require long term intervention after each intensive course of management. Improvement in the condition unlocks a massive door pertaining to autism to the client and their caregivers.

Holistic caregiving for the person in the autism spectrum is easier and better than ever now. We at Buddhi Clinic believe that we have successfully touched new and unexplored vistas through our assessments, medicines and therapies. Visit Buddhi Clinic and tackle conditions of the brain and mind with aplomb!

                           

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