There are several reasons why I chose the topic of Autism. First, autism is intriguing because it is very hard to understand. Medical science is at a loss to explain why and how it occurs. Second, I have had occasion to develop a personal relationship with children who are afflicted with autism.
At The Children's Institute, where I volunteer, I sit and play with many kids, two of whom are very hard to play with. Even though they are five and six years old, they avoid making eye contact with others, and often refuse to play with the other kids. Also, once they start watching something, like television, it is very hard to get them to look somewhere else. They are focused, almost mesmerized by the television, especially if there are flashing lights or colors. One child rocks back and forth, sometimes slowly and sometimes faster. An older child makes noises a lot, hums and randomly laughs for no reason. My observations prompted me to do some research into autism and I found that these were traits which others had also observed in patients afflicted with autism.
Autism has mystified scientists and doctors for more than a century. So, what do we know about it now? It is a complex developmental disability that usually appears during the first three years of life, and it arises from a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain. The brainstem of a person with autism is shorter than a normal brainstem, lacks a structure known as the superior olive and has a smaller than normal structure known as the facial nucleus. Scientists who have observed the brainstems of autistic patients have reported that it is though a band of tissue is missing.
The symptoms of autism vary from one person to another. Some people can be affected greatly by one symptom, while other may be affected more strongly by a different symptom.
This developmental disability impacts normal development of the brain in areas such as social interaction...