Autism Spectrum Disorders: What is Autism, how is it caused, and how can it be treated?
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
April 3, 2012
Autism has become an increasing subject of interest, especially to researchers and medical professionals. This increase in interest is most likely due to the fact that autism is becoming an increasing problem in children, with the number of diagnoses doubling in just a four year period. In order to discover what may cause this disorder as well as finding effective ways to treat it, people must be informed and knowledgeable about autism. The current study discusses what ASD is, symptoms of this disorder, possible causes and risk factors, and methods of treatments and therapy, such as early intervention and sensory integration therapy. This study hypothesizes that sensory integration therapy will significantly improve grades and school performance in children with autism.
Recently, it seems as if autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been receiving a great deal of attention by those who work in the medical field, researchers, education providers, and parents as well. This is due to the fact that the number of diagnoses has increased significantly. In just a four year period, the number of recorded diagnoses for these types of disorders has doubled (Keen & Ward, 2004). This substantial increase in the diagnoses of ASDs could be due to the fact that doctors and other health professionals are becoming more aware of the criteria for these disorders, and are beginning to have greater recognition of ASD in more able, high functioning children. In the past, there have been several cases where high functioning children were first diagnosed with ADHD, and later received an ASD diagnoses (Keen & Ward, 2004). With the recent awareness of autism spectrum disorders, a more clear criteria has developed for the diagnoses of these disorders. In broad terms, autism spectrum disorders is a group of developmental brain disorders, collectively called ASD. It is called autism spectrum disorder because the symptoms and levels of impairment for these disorders ranges widely in each individual with an ASD. (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2011). In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2011), some higher functioning children may only be mildly impaired by his or hers symptoms, while other children who are low functioning may have more severely impaired by his or hers symptoms, causing them to be severely disabled.
To diagnose an individual with ASD, one must meet the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition – Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). Currently, there are five defined disorders that fall under the category of ASD. These disorders include autistic disorder (classic autism), Asperger's disorder (Asperger's syndrome), pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rett's disorder (Rett's syndrome), and childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) (NIMH, 2011). However, this review will focus mostly on the more common disorders, classic autism and Asperger's syndrome. The NIMH (2011) has identified some key symptoms seen in individuals with ASD. While symptoms do vary from one child to the next, the symptoms tend to fall into three main areas. These three areas include social impairment, communication difficulties, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors.
Children with autism have trouble with social interactions and find it difficult to engage in everyday social interactions. Some of these problems with social interactions may include having trouble with making eye contact, have trouble listening to and responding to other people in their environment, and having trouble picking up on social cues and reading peoples emotions. Children with ASD may respond unusually or...
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