Ayush Kocharekar is a curious four-year-old from Mumbai who loves to paint. He is fascinated by robots, monsters, and aliens and often enjoys drawing and colouring them. In addition, he loves watching the Harry Potter series, Masha and the Bear, and Doraemon.
Ayush was two years old when his mother, Darshana Kocharekar, noticed that he could not recognise objects and body parts like other children his age. Darshana explains, “We would point to a tube light or the nose and ask him what they were, but he couldn’t tell us.” Although he said a few words like mama, papa, and bye-bye, he often only repeated our words and did not respond to his name or make eye contact, she elaborates. (In medical terms, repeating what others say is called echolalia.)
Moreover, Ayush would not sit still and often ran around for hours, recalls Darshana.
Dr Gaurang Gaikwad, Homoeopathic consultant, Homoeopathy Healing Clinic, Mumbai, told Darshana that Ayush had symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition. The individual may experience a range of symptoms varying in severity. No two persons with autism will have the same set of symptoms, which is why autism is classified as a spectrum disorder.
Autistic people may have difficulty understanding language and expressing themselves verbally, which affects their speech and communication. They also find it challenging to convey or read emotions and body language, or to make eye contact. In addition, they could be oversensitive or under-sensitive to light, sound, touch, and taste.
Often autistic people exhibit repetitive behaviours like hand flapping or rocking back and forth – the reasons for which could vary from person to person. Some do it to calm their anxiety or deal with their emotions, while others to focus on the activity. Autistic people are comfortable with their fixed routine and often get anxious when it changes.
A 2022 study indicates that there is considerable overlap between the symptoms of ASD and ADHD.
Individualisation – Homoeopathy’s approach to a health condition
Homoeopathic practitioners say that every individual is different, and each experiences disease symptoms and severity differently. Along with characteristic physical symptoms, the medical system started by Samuel Hahnemann also considers the subtle differences in the individual’s emotional, psychological and environmental responses.
With these inputs, a homoeopath builds an individualised case study that differentiates one person from the other. The premise of homoeopathic treatment is based on the principle, ‘like cures like.’ Hence the treatment is chosen by finding a close match to the symptoms from among 3,000 listed homoeopathic medicines (called homoeopathic remedies). The medicines are available in various strengths called potencies. Such a treatment acts at the energy level and triggers the body’s natural healing ability, according to homoeopaths.
Dr Gaikwad explains to Happiest Health, “In autism, we consider the child’s various patterns such as reaction to the environment and unfamiliar people, their inherent nature, current mental state, thermal comfort, appetite, desire, aversion, thirst, sleeping pattern, dreams, and their medical history and genetic predisposition to neurological disorders to choose a medicine.”
Troubled at birth
Although what causes autism is still being investigated, researchers say that genetic and environmental factors could influence the condition.
On the other hand, Dr Vijay Anand, consulting homoeopath at Vijay’s Autism Clinic, Chennai, says, “The contributing factors I’ve often come across in my clinical experience are labour complications and mental stress during pregnancy.”
According to a 2017 study, pregnancy complications like umbilical cord compression and a baby’s abnormal position increase the risk of autism as they hinder the oxygen supply to the newborn, possibly impacting the baby’s brain development.
Besides, Dr Anand says that a pregnant mother’s emotional and psychological well-being benefits the baby’s general health. So, the mother must keep herself stress-free and get adequate rest and sleep.
Importance of early diagnosis
According to Dr Anand, children who are diagnosed as early as between the ages of one-and-a-half and three years have a better chance of living a better quality of life because of early intervention. Early diagnosis and support helped Ayush immensely.
Darshana Kocharekar says, “Dr Gaikwad helped Ayush with his hyperactivity. Ayush can now sit for about an hour without running, and his sleep and appetite have also improved.”
The magic of love, acceptance and support
Acceptance is the first step to understanding autism as the condition is not a defect but is because the brain functions differently. The goal is to provide autistic people with a safe and understanding environment, appreciate their strengths, and encourage them to express themselves in ways comfortable to them.
Often family and society misunderstand the symptoms of autism as behavioural issues. Because of it, many autistic people feel the need to mask their symptoms during social interactions. One research study indicates that masking symptoms could lead to social anxiety and poor mental health in autistic people.
The practice of individualised case studies adopted in homoeopathy can help unmask such hidden stresses.
“Parental care is of utmost importance, and the child needs to feel loved,” emphasises Dr Anand. Therefore, he adds that parents play a significant role in occupational therapy to help build the children’s basic daily skills such as combing hair, buttoning the shirt or eating by themselves.
Darshana agrees that occupational and speech therapy helped Ayush greatly. He will be going to school soon, and she is happy to notice a marked improvement in coping with his daily activities. “He has started expressing himself better when hungry, recognises many objects and colours and even knows where his bag is kept,” she beams.
It is a good and well-written article. The article explains an in-depth overview of the disorder. It is fascinating to know there are over 3000 homeopathic remedies available to treat the disorder.
Very well explained . Keep it up.
Very well articulated by the writer and thought provoking about ASD. Overall the article boost confidence to parents how to handle artism child.