Autism

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Running head: Autism

What is autism? This is a very good question, and my guess would be that it is a disorder that affects a person in the way that they communicate, socialize, and interact with others. The real definition according to Baron-Cohen (1995) follows: That autism is considered the most severe of all the childhood psychiatric conditions. Fortunately, it occurs only rarely, affecting between 4 and 15 children per 10,000. It occurs in every country in which it has been looked for, and across social classes. The key symptoms are that social and communication development are clearly abnormal in the first few years of life, and the child’s play is characterized by a lack of the usual flexibility, imagination, and pretense. (p. 60) What he means is that autism is detected when children are infants, and the way that they socialize and communicate is different from the way a child who doesn’t have autism socialize and communicate. To get a better understanding of what autism really is Shawn Bean (2010) listed some key symptoms to look for in diagnosis and they follow: Imagine a highway, long and straight, that disappears into a horizon beset with storm clouds. The highway’s earliest exit leads to something relatively mild, like sensory integration disorder (a child being overly sensitive to the texture of his clothes, or to the sound of the dishwasher). Continue down the highway toward the storm, and the exits lead to more serious issues like Asperger’s syndrome, where children have trouble with social interaction (ignoring everyone at a Mommy and Me class) and show intense fixations on repetitive patterns or behaviors (staring at a spinning wheel or running laps around the coffee table). And lastly, the farthest exit underneath those dark clouds lead to a severe case of autism, such as a child who acts deaf and mute but physically has the capability to hear and speak. (Shawn Bean 2010) That was a unique way that Shawn Bean put that in context. By using the metaphor of driving on the highway on a stormy to the stages of autism helps me to understand what goes on. It helps to understand the things that a child goes through when having such a disorder. So my next underlying question is do children grow out of this? According to Baron-Cohen (1995) follows: At present, autism is unfortunately a lifelong disorder. Thankfully, it sometimes appears to alleviate a little with age, as the child receives the benefits of educational and therapeutic interventions and learns various strategies for adapting to the social world. (p. 60) So the answer is no, but it is possible for a child to improve as long as they get the proper help they need to help them survive in the world that we live in. For example, in my home town of Lewisburg, TN we have a Child Development Center, and they help kids with disabilities learn the things that they need to know before going to kindergarten. I have a cousin who has Asperger’s syndrome, and that center helped him out a lot. At family gatherings he wouldn’t play with any of the other kids. He would just stay up under his mother the whole time, and play with his belt that he carried everywhere he went. Peeters(1997) called this social isolation, and he stated “that this social isolation should not be seen as too definitive, that it was possible to determine a pattern of development in social behavior and that many children with autism eventually did become interested in other people” (p.80). Once my cousin had completed his courses at the Child Development Center he started playing with other kids, talking more, and acting like a child full of energy. He kept carrying that belt around though. It took his mom a while to break him from carrying that belt around. Through the process he went from carrying the belt around to carrying a piece of string, and now he doesn’t need either one of them. I knew that he was autistic, but I never understood why he carried that belt around until I started...
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