Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that emerges in early childhood. It affects the way a person communicates and limits his/her ability to relate to others in a meaningful way, develop friendships, show signs of affection, appreciate cuddles or understand other people's feelings. Because the severity and variation of symptoms, the disorder is often referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD.Autism affects more children than cancer, cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis combined. One in every 250 babies has autistic spectrum disorder. The condition is four to five times more common in boys than in girls.

Discovering your child has autism can be a very slow process and is likely to be very upsetting for the whole family and friends. The disorder doesn't always emerge with the same symptoms and occurs earlier in some children than others. The way most children react to situations or other people will develop as they grow older and enjoy playing games and mingling with other children. Most children would find it very difficult not to make friends or receive affection from those they hold dear.

However, some children don't seem to want to do these things and appear distant and aloof. It's as if they are not aware of their physical surroundings. These children find it difficult to verbalize or communicate their needs and tend to display repetitive and other odd behaviours. In severe cases the child doesn't speak at all. Such children lack any awareness of others and show a disinterest in social situations. These are the common characteristics of autism.

For a treatment programme to be successful, parents, caregivers and/or siblings will have to play a significant part. Involving the whole family in the treatment programme will not only improve the outcome for the child, but also improve acceptance and lead to a better quality of life for the whole family.


The term depression is used to describe an emotion or a mood state, experienced by many people. Everyone has moments of feeling down or sad. But, on the whole these feelings do not last for very long. In contrast, people with severe depression are suffering from a serious illness. This illness affects not only their mood, but also a range of other normal bodily functions.

Diagnosing someone with clinical depression - the medical term used for condition - implies that the symptoms are severe enough to require treatment. There are several types of clinical depression. Every one of these types has distinct characteristics. They include: major or severe depression, dysthymia, double depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

About 12% of women suffer from clinical depression; almost double the rate of men (about 7%). One in four women, is likely to experience severe depression at some stage during her life. Yet, only about one fifth of women with depression receive the right treatment. Women are also more likely to suffer from other symptoms, such as anxiety, sleep disorders, panic attacks and eating disorders together with depression.

Many people suffer from depression for years without receiving a proper diagnosis or treatment. Yet depression is one of the most treatable mental illnesses and an early diagnosis will improve the long-term outcome considerably as treatment can start early. 80% - 90% of people with depression respond well to treatment. Without treatment, the symptoms of depression can last for weeks, months or years, turning the condition into a chronic disorder. This greatly increases the risk of multiple episodes .