Isolated in their own worlds, people with autism appear indifferent and remote. They are normally unable to form emotional bonds with others. Although people with this brain disorder can display a wide range of symptoms and disabilities, many are incapable of understanding other people’s thoughts, feelings, and needs. Often, their language and intelligence do not fully develop. This makes communication and social relationships difficult.
Many people with autism engage in repetitive activities, like rocking or banging their heads, or rigidly following familiar routines. Some of those with autism are painfully sensitive to sound, touch, sight, or smell.
Children with autism do not follow the typical patterns of child development. In some children, future problems can often be seen at birth. In most cases, the problems become more noticeable as the child falls further behind other children the same age. Between 18 and 36 months old, they suddenly reject people, act strangely, and lose language and social skills they had already learned.
During the 1950s and 1960s, people with autism were isolated and some were sent away to institutions. Today, many of those with autism can attend school with other children. Methods are available to help improve their social, language, and academic skills. Even though more than 60 percent of adults with autism continue to need care throughout their lives, some programs are beginning to demonstrate that with appropriate support, they can be trained to do meaningful work and participate in the life of the community.
Autism is found in every country and region of the world, and in families of all racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds. Autism affects about 1 or 2 people in every thousand and is three to four times more common in boys than girls.
Girls with the disorder, however, tend to have more severe symptoms and lower intelligence.
Some people with autism display remarkable abilities. A few demonstrate skills far out of the ordinary. At a young age, when other children are drawing straight lines and scribbling, some children with autism are able to draw detailed, realistic pictures in three-dimensional perspective. Some toddlers who are autistic are so visually skilled that they can put together complex jigsaw puzzles. Many begin to read exceptionally early – sometimes even before they begin to speak.
Some who have a keenly developed sense of hearing can play musical instruments they have never been taught to use, play a song accurately after hearing it once, or name any note they hear. Some people with autism can memorize entire television shows, pages of the phone book, or the scores of every major league baseball game. Such skills, however, known as islets of intelligence or savant skills are rare.
The Northwest Neurodevelopment Training Center states that:
Autism can be treated by addressing the neurological dysfunction at the appropriate developmental levels can help to restore normal function. Neurological reorganization, a rehabilitation technique based on normal neurological development, takes the individual through the developmental process using reflex patterns encoded in the central nervous system. This facilitates the establishment of appropriate neurological function so that the autistic person no longer is isolated by perceptual aberrations.
Recognizing and treating autism as a neurological dysfunction can help autistic people to become incorporated into the world and society November 10, 1996.
The process of neurological development is one of building connections between the countless number of neurons or brain cells in the central nervous sys-tem. Some of the connections are general purpose pathways that are used millions of times each day for a variety of different purposes, while others are more specific and are used less often for a particular purpose.
There are four main steps involved in neurological reconstruction. They are:
1. A functional neurological evaluation using the profile of normal neurological development is used to identify which, if any, parts of the central nervous system show indications of dysfunction.
By identifying any absent or impaired neurological functions , it is possible to determine specifically where in the central nervous system a dysfunction exists.
2. An individual program of developmental activities is assigned to the patient. The activities trigger reflexes which stimulate the development of the absent or impaired functions using the profile of normal neurological development. .