Case Study - Autism

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INTERVIEW WITH A PARENT OF AN AUTISTIC CHILD
Autism is a developmental disability characterized by the abnormal development of communication skills, social skills, and reasoning. It is estimated that 1 in 166 children today has autism. Males are four times more likely to have it. Some symptoms of autism are exaggerated reactions and inappropriate behaviors. Also, it is common for autistic children to be disturbed by noise. There is an area of debate and controversy surrounding the causes and etiology of autism, along with other Autism Spectrum Disorders. A genetic basis for autism has unquestionably been established and at this stage it appears that multiple genes may be responsible. Currently, there is no genetic test that can be done to detect autism. Though it is agreed that there is a genetic susceptibility to autism, disagreements surface over the whether the condition is genetically established and therefore inevitable, or is triggered by factors in the environment. The controversy is made more problematic by the broad spectrum of autism, ranging from near total disability to mild social difficulties. It is hypothesized that these multiple “causes” act together with each other in delicate and complex ways, and would explain the wide range of conflicting effects and behaviors in each individual. Genetic cause of autism

Scientists commonly agree that there is at best a genetic basis for autism, although this may still be debated by some psychology researchers, parents of children diagnosed with autism, and members of the autistic community. Many researchers suspect that autism results from genetically mediated weaknesses to environmental triggers. And while there is disagreement about the magnitude, nature, and mechanisms for such environmental factors, researchers have found seven genes prevalent among many individuals diagnosed as autistic. Various studies disclose that there are definite physical changes in the brains of individuals on the autism spectrum. The frontal lobes, cerebellum, hippocampus and amygdala are enlarged, while the corpus collosum is smaller than normal. Axons link our brain cells together, and in autistic individuals there are too many of these in local areas of the brain, and not enough linking different areas together. It is not known yet if these changes in the brain are the cause, or just effects, of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Possible environmental causes of autism
The search for environmental triggers has been mostly focused on attempting to find a cause for a supposedly rapid increase in the report of autism in recent decades. Many of the environmental trigger theories are based on circumstantial accounts of regressive autism observed after a particular occurrence, vaccination being the most popular one among parents.

CASE STUDY
Damian is a 7-year-old boy, and was diagnosed with autism five years ago. He has been attending school full time since the age of 3 through early intervention programs. Currently, he is attending Joseph F. Cappello School. Academically, he is extremely high functioning but has some severe sensory and motor skill issues.

HISTORY

BIRTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Damain was a full-term baby delivered with no complications. Damian has been is in the custody of his grandmother since two months old. His grandmother reported that as a baby and toddler, his health was rarely an issue. As Damian got older he was within normal limits for major milestones such as sitting, standing and walking. At age 2, he was described as low tone with awkward motor skills and inconsistent imitation skills. His communication development was delayed; he began using vocalizations at 3 months of age but had developed no words by 3 years. He began to have tantrums and noise was a big issue for Damian.

FAMILY ISSUES/STRUGGLES
Damian has changed the direction of their lives. They have much less freedom than other families. Damian’s autism limits their ability to do...
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