Specific Disability Paper: Autism
People have been trying to define and “normalize” what it is to be human through science, media, and culture for centuries. A mold has been created by societies around the world to look, feel, and act, without giving much more than an afterthought to what it would be like to break out of the mold; to know what it is like to be different. At a basic, surface level, PubMed Health defines autism as a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills (PubMed Health). Another definition comes from the Autism Speaks website in that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Autism are generalized terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. “These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors” (Autism Speaks). But even still, as each human experience is unique, regardless if an individual has Autism or not, they should not be defined only in terms of biology. That gets in the way of understanding what it truly is to be human. Medical Aspects
Saying that, there still is value to understanding the medical aspects associated with Autism to determine symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, etc .The Autism Fact Sheet refers to autism as Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are three main types of Autism: Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. “People with autistic disorder, also called autism, usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability. People with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability. The third type is called Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder. The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges” (CDC). There are no medical tests available that can detect Autism Spectrum Disorders, so they can be more difficult to diagnose. The CDC says that doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. The National Institute for Neurological Disorders says that Autism can be diagnosed as early as infancy. Experts estimate that 1 out of 88 children will have an ASD. Males are four times more likely to have an ASD than females. (Autism Fact Sheet). Life disability characteristics
The National Institute for Neurological Disorders also states that scientists are not totally certain as to what causes ASD. However, they do believe that genetics and environmental factors have some sort of influence (National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke). Abnormal levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters in the brain are thought to suggest that ASD could “result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other, possibly due to the influence of environmental factors on gene function” (National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke). These findings do, however, require further research. ASD varies widely in severity and symptoms and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is masked by more debilitating handicaps. Early signs of autism include the child not responding to their name, having a loss of language or social...
References: Autism Fact Sheet . National Institutes of Health, Sept. 2009. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks Inc., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. <http://www.autismspeaks.org/>.
Bagatell, Nancy. "Orchestrating voices: autism, identity and the power of discourse." Disability
& Society 22.4 (2007): 413-26. Taylor & Francis Online
Morris, Barry K. The Autism Rights Movement. N.p., 2008. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
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