Autism, an individual disorder

Havana, March 30 (IANS/Prensa Latina): The International Centre for Neurological Restoration (CIREN) here is developing a project aimed at validating and measuring the effectiveness of interventions in patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Hector Vera Cuesta, neuro-pediatrician and deputy director of CIREN, explains to Prensa Latina that the strategy "established just over a year ago in collaboration with a prestigious Brazilian university" is based on individual diagnosis.

The programme began with Cuban children and includes the analysis and study of patients from all points of view, neuro-physiological or biochemical imaging, looking for ways to characterise this process, he noted.

Once the patient is evaluated, intensive therapeutic intervention is started, always based on personalisation with the participation of a multi- and inter-disciplinary team which designs therapy to use according to the possible deficiencies.

"We are still starting the study, but we hope that once it concludes and we confirm its effectiveness, it can be spread throughout the country (Cuba)," said the specialist.

Cuesta Vera highlighted that each patient is unique, so there can be no single recipe.

"ASD has a broad spectrum of symptoms and multiple causes, so we must focus on patient stratification, know them better, only then we will be better able to evaluate and propose alternative and complementary treatments," he assured.

This condition was first described in 1943 and since that moment a unique solution for everyone has been sought unsuccessfully, as not all the cases suffer from the same affectation, some may have language impairments and others, social communication, Vera said.

That's why Cuba places particular emphasis on both physical and cognitive rehabilitation, including special education, through occupational therapists or defectologists serving the cognitive area, social relationships and speech therapy.

All this is complemented with physical therapy, ozone therapy, holistic medicine, psychological treatment and finally the neurological test, just in case the patient needs drug treatment, he said.

No method has resolved all the problems of patients by itself. So, all that can be useful and beneficial in each case must be combined, and it is very important to involve parents, who should know how to lead their children when suffering from ASD, he added.

About the condition, the expert noted that in the region it is estimated that one in 50 or 100 children shares symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.

"When this syndrome was first described, it was said that they were children of "cooler" parents, who did not spend time communicating with them due to the social pressure of work."

However, when the same children were given the right environment, they did not recover lost functions. Therefore, it is a much more complex problem, a biological one. It is a disease affecting not only the central nervous system but also others such as the immune and digestive systems, he said.


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