Autism causes and treatments

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Autism causes and treatments

Well as far as what causes autism, the real answer is we don't know. Yet. But we're getting closer. We understand a lot about autism. What we understand is that it's a brain dysfunction that impacts every one in 110th child in the United States. We know that there are some children that have a genetic susceptibility for autism and that something in the environment in terms of brain development collides, the genetics in environment crash into each other. The result is that children have an overstimulation of neuronal connections in their brain. Consequently what happens is there's an interference in the way children socially connect, verbally connect, and make sense of the world around them. Now in terms of treatment, we know that early intervention is a key. But because so many of a child's systems are being impacted by autism, what happens is that we really need a multi-disciplinary kind of approach, and there are many interventions. There's a developmentally sensitive approach, like DIR Floortime, or Relational Developmental Intervention, RDI. There's cognitive behavioral approaches, ABA, Applied Behavior Analysis. But again, because we know that a system for a child is so sensitive and so many parts of a child's world is impacted by autism. We also recommend things like physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language support, and educational therapy.

See Esther Hess, PhD's video on Autism causes and treatments...


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Esther Hess, PhD

Pediatric Psychologist

Dr. Esther Hess is a developmental psychologist. She specializes in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of children with developmental delays, regulatory disorders and language impairment, specifically autism, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified.  In addition, she treats various psychological ailments including, affective disorders, selective mutism, school phobias, attention deficit disorder, non-verbal learning disorders and difficulties as related to childhood response to parental divorce. Her expertise is in the utilization and application of a developmentally based psychotherapy (the DIR model) as devised by Dr. Stanley Greenspan. This model, conceptualized as Floor Time, takes into consideration the various underlying elements that may be impeding the child including where he/she is at developmentally, various biological constraints, and the relationship between the child and the parent. 

In addition to working with the impacted person, Dr. Hess interfaces with the entire family and coordinates the efforts of the various members of team specialists who assist in boosting the impacted individual’s developmental lag.  She is currently one of Dr. Greenspan’s Senior Clinicians on the West Coast, certified in  D.I.R./Floor Time and has trained parents, interventionists and clinicians both nationally and internationally in the developmental/relational method known as Floor Time.  Dr. Hess is the executive director of a multidisciplinary treatment facility in West Los Angeles, Center for the Developing Mind.

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