Autism



There are several reasons why I chose the topic of Autism. First, autism is intriguing
because it is very hard to understand. Medical science is at a loss to explain why and how it occurs.

Second, I have had occasion to develop a personal relationship with children who are afflicted with
autism.
At The Childrens Institute, where I volunteer, I sit and play with many kids, two of whom
are very hard to play with. Even though they are five and six years old, they avoid making eye
contact with others, and often refuse to play with the other kids. Also, once they start watching
something, like television, it is very hard to get them to look somewhere else. They are focused,
almost mesmerized by the television, especially if there are flashing lights or colors. One child
rocks back and forth, sometimes slowly and sometimes faster. An older child makes noises a lot,
hums and randomly laughs for no reason. My observations prompted me to do some research into
autism and I found that these were traits which others had also observed in patients afflicted with
autism.
Autism has mystified scientists and doctors for more than a century. So, what do we know
about it now? It is a complex developmental disability that usually appears during the first three
years of life, and it arises from a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain.
The brainstem of a person with autism is shorter than a normal brainstem, lacks a structure known
as the superior olive and has a smaller than normal structure known as the facial nucleus.
Scientists who have observed the brainstems of autistic patients have reported that it is though a
band of tissue is missing.
The symptoms of autism vary from one person to another. Some people can be affected
greatly by one symptom, while other may be affected more strongly by a different symptom.
This developmental disability impacts normal development of the brain in areas such as
social interaction and communication skills. Children with autism cannot interpret the emotional
states of others, they dont recognize anger, sorrow or manipulative intent. Their language skills
are limited and they will often fail to initiate and sustain conversations.
It is common for an autistic person to avoid being touched because of a heightened sense of
touch. A light touch to most people may hurt an autistic person. On the other hand, some autistic
people are insensitive to pain and wont notice injuries. Hearing can also be heightened so that a
noise that would not bother your or my ears, may hurt an autistic persons ears. Autistic peoples
vision can also be affected. They have trouble recognizing people. They can also have their eyes
hurt by a bright light or a certain flickering.
People with autism lack normal non-verbal communication and body language. Because of
this, they will seem more literal minded and unemotional than those around them. They also have
trouble with verbal communication which sometimes means they will take a question or statement in
a literal or unusual way. Some autistic people display communication difficulties such as difficulty
remembering vocabulary and pronouncing words. Some are mute. Many need extra time to process
verbal questions or comments and to reply. From time to time they will repeat things they hear or
even their own words.

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As you can see, autism affects its victims in a wide variety of ways. Some do well in special
supportive environments, other are completely independent and function fairly well, and still others
may never learn to talk or be able to work or live independently.
Problems arise when autistic people attempt to handle multiple stimuli. Because they have
very narrowly focused attention, they can only keep up with one thing at a time. Most people have a
mind like a flashlight, with an area of high focus, and a larger area or partial awareness. The
autistic mind, though, is more like a laser-pointer that highlights only a single small dot to the
exclusion of all else.
Autistic people often dislike, or display a pronounced dislike for change. They have strong
attachments to places, objects, and routines. They can become very upset if they are forced to
abandon these things.
People with autism may be seen as extremely shy. Some may be or seem socially anxious,
but others arent anxious, just uninterested or unaware of how to interact or approach others.
Their lack of normal body language may make them seem more distant or unemotional than they
actually are.
Autistic people will often do strange things, like flapping their hands in front of their eyes,
humming, spinning in circles, rocking back and forth, or repeating things. They do these things just
for fun, or because they are excited or distressed. The repetitiveness is related to the natural
repetitiveness and narrow focus of the autistic mind. Talking to oneself or giggling for no apparent
reason is often the result of intense daydreaming or remembering.
A child with autism is normal in appearance to the untrained eye. But scientists have
identified a few physical anomalies. The corners of the mouth are low compared with the center of
the upper lip, and the tops of the ears flop over. Also, the ears are a bit lower than normal and
have almost a square shape.
In the information I have gathered, we see both how similarly affected the victims of
autism are and how much the effects of autism vary from one person to another. New scientific
discoveries have served to dispel some of the mystery of this complex developmental disability. Of
course, it is frustrating for anyone who has a family member or is a family friend of an autistic
person because there is still no explanation for why autism strikes.
As a volunteer who works with autistic children, I believe it is important to increase
awareness and understanding of this affliction. We can and should reach out to autistic children
and help them live lives that are as meaningful and productive as possible. In doing so, I have found
that we can enrich not just their lives but our own as well.
Miscellaneous

Autism


Autism
Throughout the years the diagnosis of autism has changed dramatically. Once, it was mistakenly diagnosed as childhood schizophrenia. Now that much more extensive research has been done, researchers have found distinct characteristics that are typical of autistic individuals.

It is most often characterized by difficulty in the child’s ability to respond to people, events, and objects. Responses to sensations of light, sound, and feeling may be exaggerated. Delayed speech and language may be associated. Other characteristics include: impairment in ability to make peer friendships, absence of imaginative activity, stereotyped body movements, persistent preoccupation with parts of objects, marked distress over changes in trivial aspects of the environment, unreasonable insistence on following routines in precise detail, a restricted range of interests and a preoccupation with one narrow interest, along with many others.

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Although certain characteristics are typical of autistic children, the diagnosis is a multidisciplinary effort. The diagnosis requires a team of professionals because of the many unique characteristics and behaviors of the autistic child Each professional is assigned a different behavior to monitor. However, the psychiatrist and the psychologist are mainly responsible for the diagnosis and the psychological evaluations involved. The onset of this condition is usually observed within the first two and a half years.
In 1968, the APA referred to autism as a single disorder, and now it is known to be a syndrome of behavioral and medical effects. Along with autism, several related disorders are grouped under Pervasive Developmental Disorders, PDD, a general category which is characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development. The standard reference is known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM, which is now in its fourth edition. The DSM classifies the different types of PDD which are often mistaken as autism. The other PDD are Asperger’s Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, PDD-NOS, which is commonly referred to as atypical autism. The term autistic spectrum disorder is frequently used to acknowledge the diversity and severity of autism . The characteristics and symptoms of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations. There is no standard type and no such thing as a typical person with autism. The most commonly used terms to describe people with autism are: autistic-like, autistic tendencies, autistic spectrum, high functioning, or low functioning, and more-abled or less-abled.

Autistic disorder is also know as Infantile Autism or Kanner’s Syndrome. Most children with this condition exhibit poor social skills, and impaired cognitive functioning and language. What is it that causes this national crisis, affecting over 400,000 families, and costing the nation over 13 billion dollars. Autism is the third most common developmental disorder, more common than Down Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, or cystic fibrosis, and autism research still receives less than 5% of the funding of the other diseases. With the lack of funding, researchers from all over the world are spending a considerable amount of time and energy trying to find answers. A single specific cause of autism is still not known. The most current research links autism to neurological or biological differences in the brain, and in many families a pattern of autism or autism related disabilities appears. This could suggest that autism has a genetic basis, although no specific gene has been directly linked to autism. Researchers believe that a genetic basis would be highly complex, involving a combination of several genes. Direct causes have not been discovered, but several theories has been proven false. Autism is not a mental disorder, children with autism are not unruly kids who choose not to behave. Autism is not caused by bad parenting, and no known psychological factors in child development have been proven to cause autism.
Children with autism begin to show signs of this disease at around the age of two. This is when parents may notice delays in language, play, or social interaction. One of the many problems autistic children have is with social detachment and unresponsiveness. Autistic babies do not smile at there parents or reach out to be cuddled or picked up. They often do not play with other children, appearing to be in there their own world, unaware of people or events around them. Many children

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