Autism Spectrum Disorders: Symptoms and Interventions

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Autism Spectrum Disorder

Federal Law first recognized autism as a disability category for IDEA in 1990, although, autism was in the research literature in the first half of the 20th century.

Symptoms of autism spectrum disorders can emerge very early in a child’s life. •Most cases become evident before the age of 2 ½ and few are diagnosed after the age of 5

Autism spectrum disorders can be one of the most seriously disruptive of all childhood disabilities. •It is characterized by combinations of deficiencies in language, interpersonal skills, emotional or affective behavior, and intellectual functioning

Autism: From Greek autos meaning “self” to reflect a sense of isolation and detachment from the world that characterizes some individuals with the disorders

IDEA: autism: a disorder with onset prior to age 3, characterized by extreme withdrawal, self-stimulation, intellectual deficits, and language disorders •Diagnosis should not be used in cases of children with characteristics of extreme emotional disturbance •People with autism spectrum disorder are not all alike

Autism Spectrum Disorder: the range of functioning in multiple skill areas found among those with autism disorders Asperger Syndrome: a condition that shares unusual social interactions and behaviors with autism, but includes no general language delay •Some researchers argue that it is a high functioning version of Autism, but some believe the disorder is distinct Rett Syndrome: a neurological condition primarily affecting girls, who develop normally until about 5 to 30 months of age when their skills development slows, and in many cases, regresses •Language, cognition, and purposefully hand movements often regresses •It is part of autism spectrum disorders but a distinct neurological condition

Compared to other conditions, autism is relatively rare
About 5 cases per 10,000, although some believe it is much higher (2000) •Total prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is estimated at over 116 per 10,000 (2005) •The variation in prevalence could be the result of definitional changes or to an increase in incidence Gender Differences

Males out number females (4 to 1 and as high as 8 to 1)
Gender differences could be the result of females with autism being less socially aberrant than males, making them difficult to identify

Unusual behavior often appears very early
They may exhibit significant impairment in interpersonal interaction as babies: unresponsive to physical contact or affection, avoid eye contact, avert their gaze These behavior often continue in older children

Children with autism are often described in terms of social impairments, unresponsiveness, extreme difficulty relating to others, difficulty understanding or expressing emotion, and lowered ability to regulate affect •Prefer interacting with inanimate objects, forming attachments to such objects rather than people •Insensitive to the feelings of others and treat other people as objects

Impaired or Delayed Language
Approximately half do not develop speech, and those who do often engage in strange language and speaking behavior, such as echolalia •Echolalia: a meaningless repetition or imitation of words that have been spoken •Do not attach meaning to what they say

Reduced ability to imitate language
Children who develop language often have a limited speaking repertoire, exhibit an uneven level of development between language skills areas, and fail to use pronouns in speech directed at other people •Fail to grasp grammatical competencies and make little use of semantics in sentence structure •The tonal quality of speech is unusual or flat

Their speech appears to serve the purpose of self-stimulation rather than communication

Stereotypic Behavior
Self-stimulatory behavior is associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder •Stereotypic behavior: behavior or stereotypy involving repetitive...
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