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Symptoms of Children's Conditions including Behaviour Disorders

Symptoms of Children's Conditions including Behaviour Disorders

Autism usually presents with the parents noticing that the child does not react normally and appears not to be relating to other people. There is no spontaneous affection and, due to increased sensitivity, the child can react negatively to loud noises and seeks comfort in, often bizarre, repetitive movements and activities, and does not like to make eye contact.

ADHD is a very exhausting condition that may involve the child being hyperactive, aggressive, uncontrollable, impulsive and socially difficult. Attention span is poor, instructions are forgotten or not taken in (or not received) and the child’s education and general development suffer. (S)he may be disobedient, permanently fidgety and suffer from low frustration tolerance, sleep disturbance, appetite problems, restlessness and attention seeking behaviour. There are enormous problems for the parents and other carers as the child can respond in a loud, aggressive or even violent manner with minimal need for sleep so the situation is relentlessly anxiety provoking and emotionally traumatic for all concerned. The condition is significantly more common in boys. Other, associated, symptoms may include abnormal thirst, migraine in the family, asthma and eczema.

Diagnosis of Children’s Conditions Including Behaviour Disorders

There are no objective diagnostic investigations such as blood tests or scans and the diagnosis of both conditions is made on the history and observing the behaviour. Paediatric consultants and health visitors are often involved at an early stage after an initial assessment by the GP. It can take a long time to finally confirm the diagnosis, particularly with autism, as there are a number of developmental disorders to consider and exclude.

A high proportion of these children react badly to cow’s and other animal’s milk. Sugar and chocolate can also produce hyperactive behaviour – particularly tartrazine (E102) and benzoate preservatives (E210 – 19). Symptoms can occur after a few minutes or up to a week after ingesting the trigger substance. On other occasions it requires a build up of the food over some time to produce symptoms.

Dr Ben Feingold, an American paediatric allergist, first suggested food sensitivity as a trigger in the mid-70s. Diets avoiding food colourings and additives, salicylate-containing fruits and vegetables such as berries, currants, dried fruit, grapefruit, peanuts, tomatoes, strong mints, broad beans, courgettes, peppers and sweetcorn were tried and subsequent studies have confirmed the effect of this approach. Other factors have been suggested, such as behavioural causes and toxic poisoning such as from lead pipes. Sugar, sweeteners and caffeine have also been implicated.