Autism is a social, mental, and physical condition that affects children and adults every year. Many families have dealt and are dealing with the struggles that accompany this disease. Autism can affect a person in various ways, and there are many different forms that can range from mild to severe. Autism stays with a person throughout their whole life. It is believed that two to six of every thousand people on the Earth suffer from autism. American psychiatrist Leo Kanner came up with the name Autism in the 1940’s from the Greek word for self. (Chez, 20) There is no known cause or treatment for this disease as of today, but researchers are learning more every day. One parent described her child, saying, “There was no joy, no sadness, no curiosity, no connection, nothing.” (Seroussi, 28)
There are many symptoms of Autism. These symptoms can be displayed as early as birth, or as late as adulthood, but most cases appear in young children. These symptoms can also range in severity. Some cases are undiagnosed because of the subtleness of the symptoms, while others make it impossible for a person to function on their own. Some of these symptoms can be mental, but most of the recognized signs of Autism are physical. There are also many different kinds of Autism. There is Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger's syndrome, Rett syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD). Each of these come with their own set of symptoms, and affect a person differently. Most people just clump all of these conditions together as Autism, but the “scientific” term for these syndromes is “Autism Spectrum Disorders” or “Pervasive Developmental Disorders.”
The symptoms of Autism can be mental or physical. The mental aspect of Autism can hinder a child from being able to communicate and interact with others. There are many combinations of the symptoms that can change a way a child interacts in many different forms. There are three main parts of a child’s social life that Autism can affect. Autism can cause abnormal social interactions, abnormal communication, and/or restrictive or repetitive interests and behaviors. (Chez, 32) Abnormal social interaction comes in a variety of forms. There could be a failure to seek comfort in ones parent or a lack of eye contact. Some children won’t respond to their name being called or won’t want to play with other children. Most Autistic children don’t understand social behaviors necessary to interact safely and normally with others. This tends to lead the children into isolation. There is also a sense of abnormal communication linked to Autism. Most Autistic children don’t develop their language as early as normal children would. Some children wont ever develop any type of verbal language. They will learn sign language, or other forms of hand gestures. They use facial expressions to communicate with others. Some children will talk endlessly about one subject, going on for hours and hours about the same thing. Autistic children tend to take words literally and speak very precisely. Some suffer from echolalia, which is repeating what is said but not actually replying or responding to a question or statement. Finally, Autism can present with restrictive or repetitive interests or behaviors. Some children will find an interest in one certain thing or subject. One child might have an obsession with clocks, another with airplanes, and another with calendars. A child could find an interest in
anything you could possibly imagine. They usually spend all of their time nurturing this interest, and don’t think much about anything else. They will also isolate themselves in that way. Some children suffer from repetitive movements such as hand flapping, rocking, or head banging. Some suffer from OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. They will do things such as placing all their toys in a row...
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