Existential Approach to Autism

Topics: Autism, Asperger syndrome, Pervasive developmental disorder Pages: 8 (2829 words) Published: December 5, 2012
To someone who first meets George, he is an absolutely adorable child, a brown-haired, blue-eyed cute six year old that is well coordinated, active and agile. He looks perfectly normal, however, it soon seems apparent that George does not behave and think like a typical child is supposed to. He is aloof in his class and avoids interaction with other children. He is not attached to his parents, or his classmates. He makes exceptionally realistic pictures of things that he sees, but does not even know the meaning of them. He throws frequent tantrums, banging his head in the banisters, evoked by nothing but things as simple as someone leaving his drawer open, or disruption of his toys arranged by their colors in the rainbow spectrum. Understandably their parents are frustrated by his disruptive, bizarre and embarrassing behavior. And how hard they try, they are unable to communicate with their son emotionally. George, like thousands of children in America is autistic. A child like George significantly differs from other children, but often the difference that is perceived as challenging and frustrating is often advantageous, novel and useful if handled in proper way. Autism is often classified by psychologists as a severe form of psychopathology that alters the cognitive ability of the patient. However, I find it very unconvincing to label autism as a form of pathology (or a disease) because more than a disease it is actually just a different way to see world. Many autistic people grow up to be remarkable person, who with their savant quality bring about different and advantageous changes to the world. It is just because we often fall into ease by lumping people who think differently from us and whom we perceive as “difficult” into “insane” and “sick”. Autistic children and adult are not “sick”, they only need understanding and helpful hands that help an autistic child to hone his novel perspective of the world and use it for the advantage of him and that of the society. We therefore need a humanistic- existential approach to autism, whereby an autistic child is allowed to be perceived as free so that he can make choices with responsibility that is good for him as well as the society. Autism therefore should not be treated as disorder but tolerated as difference.

Psychology of Autism
Autism is a disorder of neural development that is characterized by impaired social interaction and by repetitive behavior. Autism often involves lack of social cognitive abilities like empathy, understanding other’s emotions, and appreciation of complex social dynamics. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in section 299.00 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) describes in detail symptoms of autism and other autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that includes Aesperger syndrome, Kanner’s syndrome and PDD-NOS (or atypical autism).(Autism Treatment International)

In 1943, the child psychiatrist Leo Kanner of Johns Hopkins University provided the first detailed account of what he called “autistic disturbances of affective contact.”( Schreibman, 27) The main characteristic of these children what he termed “extreme autistic aloneness”, causing a failure for the children develop expected normal relationship with other people and their environment. This neuro-developmental disorder first appears during the early ages of childhood and progresses throughout the life. According to Laura Schriebman, autistic children show special non-normal behavior in five different spectrums: Social behavior, communication, repetitive iterative and sometimes disruptive behaviors, odd emotional responses, and different kind of intelligence and cognition. (Schreibman, 46).

Children with autism show impairment in the capability to understand other and thus have meaningful normal social interaction. They are unable to understand simple non-verbal communications of normal people. Temple Grandin, a noted  described her...
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