- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of neurodevelopment disorders characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive patterns of behavior. These signs usually begin before a child is three years old. Some parents report the change as being sudden, and that their children start to reject people, act strangely, and lose language and social skills they had previously acquired. In other cases there is a plateau of progress so that the difference between the child with autism and other children the same age becomes more noticeable. It is important to note that not all signs of autism appear in all autistic children. The degrees in which they appear may vary as well. But in its mildest forms, autism is more like a personality difference linked to difficulties in understanding social conventions. - Most children improve as they mature to adulthood, but social and communication difficulties may persist. The lack of demonstrated empathy is possibly the most dysfunctional aspect of Asperger syndrome. Individuals with AS experience difficulties in basic elements of social interaction. People with Asperger syndrome often display behavior, interests, and activities that are restricted and repetitive and are sometimes abnormally intense or focused. Although individuals with Asperger syndrome acquire language skills without significant general delay and their speech typically lacks significant abnormalities. - Males are four times more likely to have ASD than females. Are we underestimating the abilities of autistic children? Standardized assessments present a host of difficulties. When testing children with ASD, it may be difficult or impossible to adhere to the administration guidelines and still elicit the student’s best performance. Tests that are highly dependent on language comprehension, for example, may be biased against students with ASD.
- The hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction. A child’s primary caregivers are usually the first to notice signs of ASD. As early as infancy, a baby with ASD may be unresponsive to people or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time. Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people. They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior. Noted autistic Temple Grandin described her inability as being "like an anthropologist on Mars". TEMPLE GRANDIN VIDEO
- Symptoms of autism include varying levels of difficulty with social interaction, including verbal and nonverbal communication, imitation, and empathy. Some scientists believe that impairments in autistic children's ability to imitate and empathize can be linked to dysfunction in the brain's mirror-neuron system. In one study, scientists demonstrated a clear link between a child's inability to imitate expressions on the faces of other people and a lack of activity in the mirror-neuron system. - Mirror neurons fire when an individual performs an action with a goal in mind. They also fire when one watches another individual perform that same action. Neuroscientists believe this "mirroring" is the neural mechanism by which the actions, intentions and emotions of other people can be automatically understood. - It has been proposed that this process of "movement simulation" enables us to understand the meanings and the goals of movements we observe. Must recognize movements or else we'll confuse different movements and attribute improper goals to the person we're observing). - Because individuals with autism have difficulty communicating socially and understanding the emotions and intentions of others, it has been hypothesized that they may have a dysfunction in...