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Children of Determination in Dubai: Depression and Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition, and little is known about its neurobiology. Specialists and medical professionals have focused their research on the social, communicative and cognitive difficulties associated with the condition. Small Steps Big Dreams in Dubai, UAE, has made it its aim to ensure that everyone affected by autism, directly or indirectly, have up-to-date knowledge and support relevant to the disorder, to help the children of determination in Dubai. ASD entails certain developmental impairments that can cause difficulties in reciprocal social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests.


According to relevant studies, depression is one of the many concerns related to ASD, considering its effect on an autistic individual’s social behaviour. Specifically, in the case of an autistic child or young adult, who are prone to depression. After all, this is that stage of life where they are most likely to be introduced to and engaged in various social experiences. Depending on each individual’s triggers, they can go through a variety of phases of depression.



What is depression? In simple terms, depression is a psychological disorder that persists for almost two weeks and might be intense in some cases.

Signs of depression might or might not be easy to discern, depending on the child with ASD. In common diagnoses of autism among children, individuals may struggle to recognize and/or express how they are feeling in any given situation.


Depression and ASD

Many studies have been conducted regarding other neurological disorders and various mental health constituents that can be linked to ASD. In light of one of the researches, mental health problems- including depression- are considered common in people with ASD. This study was carried out at the  University of Bristol by Dheeraj Rai and his colleagues. This angle provides us with new insight into the disorder, and gives families and caregivers a chance to plan ahead their dealings with an autistic child. This can also, in time, help improve their social lifestyle as they grow older.


In their research, Rai and his colleagues have stated that children with ASD have a higher risk of depression. Out of 22,3842 children, only 40,733 were diagnosed with autism; and they showed a higher prevalence of depression, most specifically those without intellectual disability- an estimated 24.1 per cent as compared to the 9.1 per cent with an intellectual disability.


The findings have been published in the journal JAMA Network Open.


Risks of Depression in ASD

A meta-analysis was done in January of a mélange of 66 studies- depicting that autistic individuals are overall four times more likely than neurotypicals to experience depression throughout their lives, though the reason behind it remains a mystery. The rates of depression rise with intelligence and with age. The associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Carla A.Mafzesky comments that more than 70 per cent of autistic youth suffer from mental health conditions, not merely limited to depression and anxiety. Moreoer, the risk persists of these conditions persisting and/or worsening in their adulthood.





Treating Depression in Autism

The consequences for many autistic people are dire. The major problem relating to depression is that it can severely impair the independence of children diagnosed with ASD; including anything that could prove to be a challenge at one point or another, like coping with their daily schedule.

Many ABA therapy centres in Dubai have looked into how parents and caregivers can remain vigilant towards the behavioral changes that might indicate depression. It can be as subtle as a change in appetite, weight, sleep, energy, or interest etc. We can attempt to aid the children of determination in Dubai with depression through the same medication and psychotherapy treatments that are used for the general population, with some slight alterations and/or modifications. Though there are currently only two FDA-approved antipsychotic medications that were found to be effective for cases of ASD, there is still hope for further scientific breakthroughs to help aid autistic individuals.

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