OVERVIEW OF AUTISM
Autism is the most common of the Pervasive Developmental
Disorders (PDD) and it is increasingly being referred to as one
of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). These disorders are characterized
by delays in the development of children, such as socialization
and communication. Autism itself is generally characterized by:
• Delays in social interaction
• Delays in language as used in social communication
• Delayed development of symbolic or imaginative play.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that usually
occurs within the first three years. A person’s outward appearance
may not indicate a disorder, and diagnosis
typically comes from a complete physical and neurological evaluation.
There appear to have been large increases in diagnosed autism, for
reasons that are heavily debated by researchers in psychology and
related fields within the scientific community. The specific causes
of autism are unknown, although genetic factors are becoming more
prevalent with further research, among other possible causes. There
is no cure for autism, but with early early intervention, intense therapies,
practice, and schooling, some children may improve on their skills
to the point of children without autism.
Causes of autism
The cause of autism is an area of debate and controversy.
There is currently no consensus, and researchers are studying a
wide range of possible causes.
Since autistic people are all somewhat different from one another,
there are likely multiple “causes” that interact with each other
in subtle and complex ways, and thus give slightly differing outcomes
in each individual. There is also a large genetic component to autism
while many other possible environmental causes are being researched.
Characteristics of autism
Most autistic children do not show special interest
in faces and seem to have tremendous difficulty learning to engage
in everyday human interaction. Some infants with autism may appear
very calm – they may cry less often because they do not seek parental
attention or ministration. Research has suggested that although
autistic children are attached to their parents, their expression
of this attachment may be unusual and difficult to interpret.
Many autistic children lack the ability to see things from another
person’s perspective. They often experience social alienation during
their school-age years and may imaginary friends, worlds, or scenarios.
They may have difficulty regulating their behavior, resulting in
crying, verbal outbursts, or self-injurious behaviors that seem
inappropriate or without cause. Children with autism generally prefer
to have consistent routines and environments, and they may react
negatively to changes in their surroundings.
A diagnosis of autism usually involves problems coping with normal
input, including over sensitivity or under reactivity to touch,
movement, sights, or sounds; physical clumsiness or carelessness;
poor body awareness; a tendency to be easily distracted; impulsive
physical or verbal behavior; an activity level that is unusually
high or low; not unwinding or calming oneself; difficulty learning
new movements; difficulty in making transitions from one situation
to another; social and/or emotional problems; delays in speech,
language or motor skills; specific learning difficulties/delays
in academic achievement.
Speech development and autism
Speech development in people with autism can vary
widely. Some remain mute throughout their lives with varying degrees
of literacy. Those who do speak sometimes use language in unusual
ways, retaining features of earlier stages of language development
for long periods or throughout their lives. Some children may exhibit
only slight delays in language, or even seem to have precocious
language and unusually large vocabularies, but have great difficulty
in sustaining typical conversations.
Although people with autism usually appear physically normal and
have good muscle control, unusual repetitive motions, known as self-stimulation,
may set them apart. These behaviors might be extreme and highly
apparent or more subtle. Examples include repeatedly flapping arms,
wiggling their toes, or possibly spending hours lining up their
toys in a certain way, not using them for the type of pretend play
expected of a non-autistic child.
A child with autism will sometimes have persistent, intense preoccupations,
such as learning obsessively about computers, TV programs and movie
schedules or lighthouses.
This term is used to describe a person who is
autistic and has extreme talent in a certain area of study. There
is a common association made between savants and autism, especially
due to the 1988 film Rain Man. But most autistic people
are not savants, and savantism
is not unique to autistic people, though there does seem to be some
relation. Rapid mathematical calculations and fast computer programming
skills are the most common form.
Click here for the full
range of autism and Asperger's fact sheets at www.autism-help.org
This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation. It is derivative of autism and Aspergers--related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org