Autism: On The Spectrum

Autism In Our Culture

Autism is defined as a neural developmental disorder that is most often characterized by communication difficulties and impaired interaction with others. Symptoms may include, avoiding eye contact and a lack of perceivable empathy. Many people with autism display repetitive behaviors, such as rocking and hand flapping. Some behaviors may be self abusive like head banging and biting. The amount of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD is unclear. It is estimated that, in America, approximately one out of 110 children have ASD of one severity or another. Boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed by a ratio of four to five, according to current data. Racial and socioeconomic factors seem to have no bearing on the rate of occurrence of ASD in children and adults. Most cases of autism manifest observable symptoms very early and are diagnosed with ASD before the age of three.

The Spectrum

Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD, refer to the modern way of diagnosing those with autistic related developmental disabilities. Like many other developmental disorders, symptoms of autistic people range greatly in severity. Diagnosing individuals using the spectrum based model, can help ensure that they are getting the best treatment for their specific symptoms. Lower and higher functioning autistic individuals may require a very separate set of treatments than those who range somewhere in between. Asperger’s Syndrome is typically the most recognizable syndrome associated with high functioning autism. Currently there is a diagnostic distinction between high functioning autistic people and those with Asperger’s. Whether or not the distinction is necessary is the subject of some debate. The diagnostic description of Asperger’s is functionally the same as that for the highest functioning persons with autism, and while a large culture has arisen among those who have adopted Asperger’s as a significant portion of their identity, it may eventually be eliminated as a separate medical diagnosis.

Treatment and Education

There is not one specific, or organized, treatment plan for those with ASD. Individual care and attention to the particular needs of the individual is a necessity. Early intervention is ideal. Special and strong focus on teaching the child the basic skills of talking, walking, and interaction with others before the age of three, can help the child’s development later in life. Continuing to expand on these skills through personalized programs, staged interactions, and education is also very important. A variety of therapies may be combined and integrated into the individual’s life ranging from dietary plans, medication, to behavior and communication therapy. Depending on the person, care can range from daily one on one attention to occasional supervision during education and work. There is no known cure for autism. As research continues, a better understanding of these conditions can be gained. Knowledge, understanding, experimentation, and personalization are key in providing the individual proper care in the here and now.

Research and Causes

There is no known specific cause for autism. The syndrome’s symptoms revolve around the brain, specifically the neural developments. Research on the brains of those with ASD vs. non-autistic individuals; show that the shape and structure of the brains differ. Further research is necessary to understand and develop on the causes of the differences. Heredity is suspected to be a significant factor, and research continues to study those causal links. Experimentation and case studies on autistic individuals can be used to understand the strengths and limitations of these syndromes. This knowledge will directly help individuals, and their families, to recognize and explore new methods, promoting functionality of all individuals with ASD.

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Maurice Smith