What is autism? Children who have been diagnosed with autism have mild to significant delays in receptive and expressive language, motor, and social skills. “Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that is marked by the presence of impaired social interaction and communication and a restricted repertoire of activities and interests” (CARD, 2008).
The MMR shot & autism There are people who strongly believe that autism is caused by the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) shot because delays and regression are seen in children who are later diagnosed after receiving their 18 month old wellness shots A study came out that stated the MMR shot causing autism, it became public and to this day even with scientific evidence disputing this study, parents and caretakers still believe the shot is the cause Offit & Coffin (2003) debates this claim of the MMR shot causing autism by stating, “no studies have found that autism occurs in vaccinated children at a rate greater than that found in unvaccinated children”.
Genetics & autism With the scientific proof that autism is not solely caused by toxins, research money is now being spent on DNA and genetic testing to find a link there. “With sophisticated statistical techniques and numerous twin studies, behavioral geneticists now believe that as much as 90 percent of the behavioral phenotype of autism is related to inherited genes” (Dougherty, 2000). There are many families that have multiple children with an autism diagnosis, some families have twins or triplets, all with a diagnosis, just at varying degrees. Oppositely, there are families with multiple children and only one child has a diagnosis.
The media & autism I obviously am not claiming that the media can cause autism, but am stating that the media can feed into misleading information that can create hysteria or a horrible stigma. “Suggested strategies include providing information that is at once informative and interesting to the media as well as explaining methods used by scientists and clinicians to distinguish causal from coincidental relationships” (Offit& Coffin, 2003). With all of the media attention to autism via celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson, it has definitely brought the general public’s attention and awareness. However, with all of this attention, it also has brought a stigma
Treatment & autism There is a wide variety of services and therapies offered to children who have been diagnosed with autism. Depending on the state that you live in will determine the cost and abundance of these services. In California, for example, the Regional Center and school districts provide services free of charge. Great programs offer Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) including Discrete Trial Training (DTT). “Early and intensive behaviorally based treatment, in particular the use of applied behavior analysis, is effective in systematically teaching skills and reducing problematic behaviors. Despite evidence of efficacy, however, the limited availability of quality behavioral services for children with autism is a significant barrier to effective treatment” (Jensen, 2002).
Conclusion If Autism is predetermined by genes, what makes one child exhibit the signs and receive the full diagnosis, while another child with the same predetermined genes does not exhibit any characteristics and leads a typical life? This is an important question because it would imply that Autism is caused by more than just one specific factor. The research on this question would also help families that have multiple children that are diagnosed, and one isn’t, or families that have multiple children with only one child diagnosed with Autism.
References CARD. (2008). What is autism? Retrieved from: http://www.centerforautism.com/whatisautism/. Dougherty, M. (2000). The genetics of autism. Retrieved from: http://www.actionbioscience.org/genomic/dougherty.html. Jensen, V. & Sinclair, L. (2002). Treatment of autism in young children: Behavioral intervention and applied behavior analysis. Infants & young Children. 14(4), 42-52. Retrieved from: http://journals.lww.com/iycjournal/Abstract/2002 /04000/Treatment_of_Autism_in_Young_Children__Behavio ral.6.aspx. Offit, P. & Coffin, S. (2003). Communicating science to the public: MMR vaccine and autism. Vaccine 22. (1-6). Retrieved from: http://www.comminit.com/files/communicatingsciencetothe public.pdf.