Autism and Dementia: Is There a Common Link?

There are many likenesses between seniors and children. Both cannot do without help from others while taking of themselves. Both require adults to guide them in matters of daily life. Both have difficulty learning new things. So, when things go wrong in the brains of both, the very old and the very young, the cause is more often than not, the same. Brain disorders. In children, the result is frequently autism. In seniors, it’s dementia. Both conditions take a huge toll on the families involved. Dementia occurs in about 8.8% of adults above the age of 65, whereas an estimated 1 in 68 school-aged children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Let’s take a look at what these conditions are: What is autism? Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. It is not an illness or a disease, rather it is a spectrum condition because of which autistic people share certain difficulties. Learning disabilities and mental health issues are some of the challenges that autistic people often face. There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism; that is more than 1 in 100 people. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM)-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) has three criteria for autism: (1) Impairment in social interaction (2) Impairment in communication and (3) Restricted repetitive...

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