Autism is defined as…“a developmental disorder that appears by age three andthat is variable in expression but is recognized anddiagnosed by impairment of the ability to form normalsocial relationships, by impairment of the ability tocommunicate with others, and by stereotyped behaviorpatterns especially as exhibited by a preoccupation withrepetitive activities of restricted focus rather than withflexible and imaginative ones”(http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/autism).Derives from the Greek word “autos” means “Isolatedself”
The DSM-IV says… Autism is a Pervasive Developmental Disorders PDD- “Refers to a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. Children with these conditions often are confused in their thinking and generally have problems understanding the world around them.”http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/development-disorder
History of AutismFrom the early 1900’s all the way through the 1960’s autismwas placed under the umbrella of symptoms forschizophrenia.In 1908, Eugen Bleuler coined the word "autism" inschizophrenic patients who screened themselves off andwere self-absorbed.In 1943, the American child psychiatrist Leo Kannerdescribed 11 children with the following common traits:impairments in social interaction, anguish for changes, goodmemory, over sensitivity to certain stimuli (especiallysound), food problems, limitations in spontaneous activity,good intellectual potential, often coming from talentedfamilies. He called the children autistic.
Social SymptomsSignificant problems developing nonverbalcommunication skills, such as eye-to-eye gazing, facialexpressions, and body posture.Failure to establish friendships with children the sameage.Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, orachievements with other people.Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficultyunderstanding another persons feelings, such as pain orsorrow.
CommunicationDelay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 40% of people withautism never speak.Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people withautism have difficulties continuing a conversation after it hasbegun.Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autismoften repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously(echolalia).Difficulty understanding their listeners perspective. For example, aperson with autism may not understand that someone is usinghumor. They may interpret the communication word for word andfail to catch the implied meaning.
BehaviorsAn unusual focus on pieces. Younger children with autismoften focus on parts of toys, such as the wheels on a car,rather than playing with the entire toy.Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, olderchildren and adults may be fascinated by video games,trading cards, or license plates.A need for sameness and routines. For example, a childwith autism may always need to eat bread before saladand insist on driving the same route every day to school.Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rockingand hand flapping.
DiagnosesTypically diagnosed at age 3A psychologist assesses the child based on the criteria ofthe DSM-IV-TR.IQ testBehavioral and Developmental checklistsSpeech and Occupational therapy assessmentsPhysicians study the patterns of social-emotional anddevelopmental growth of the child based on the 6 majormilestones of early life
The 6 MilestonesAttentionEngagementTwo-way communicationCircles of communicationRepresentation of ideas and emotions, and complexideas.
ScoresATEC scores range from zero to 180. The lower the score, the better. Ifa child scores zero or close to zero, that child can no longer bedistinguished from non-autistic children and thus can be consideredfully recovered. The important benchmarks in scoring are as follows: ATEC < 30. This level places the child in the top 10 percentile. A child with score of less than 30 – or, better still, less than 20 – would have some ability to conduct normal, two-way conversations, and more or less behave normally. Such children have high chances of leading normal lives as independent individuals. ATEC < 50. This places the child in the 30th percentile level. The child has good chances of being semi-independent. More importantly, he or she will not likely need to be placed in an institution or “nut house”. For many parents of autistic children, being able to achieve improvement up to this level is already considered very significant. ATEC > 104. Even though the maximum score is 180, any person with a score of more than 104 would already be in the 90th percentile, and be considered very severely autistic.
CausesThere is not one specific cause for autism. Due to this therehas been an extremely high rate of misdiagnosis. ASD is classified as being a neurological disorder due tothis researchers are led to believe that there could be agenetic predisposition with possible environmental triggersIt has been shown that autism can run in families but agenetic pinpoint has yet to be discovered ASDs tend to occur more often in people who have certaingenetic or chromosomal conditions. About 10% of childrenwith autism are also identified as having Down syndrome,fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and other geneticand chromosomal disorders.
StatisticsAbout 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autismspectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates fromCDCs Autism and Developmental Disabilities MonitoringASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, andsocioeconomic groups.ASDs are almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in54) than among girls (1 in 252).Parents who have a child with an ASD have a 2%–18%chance of having a second child who is also affectedThe majority (62%) of children the ADDM Networkidentified as having ASDs did not have intellectualdisability
TreatmentBehavioral training and management uses positivereinforcement, self-help, and social skills training toimprove behavior and communication. Many types oftreatments have been developed, including AppliedBehavioral Analysis (ABA) and sensory integration.
Treatment (cntd)Speech Therapy-can help a child with autism improvelanguage and social skills to communicate moreeffectively.Occupational Therapy-helps a child with autism to learn toprocess information from the senses (sight, sound,hearing, touch, and smell) in more manageable way.Physical therapy-therapy can help improve anydeficiencies in coordination and motor skills.Medications are not typically used to treat Autism.Sometimes are used to treat other aspects such as OCDbehaviors and anxiety.
Conclusion Experts have not yet identified a way to prevent autism.With early intervention, proper therapies, andpersistence, those diagnosed with Autism can go on tolive an independent and fulfilling life.