December 7,1999Human LifespanHuman LifespanDecember 7, 1999Autism EssayAccording to Sternberg (1995), autism is a syndrome of childhood characterized by a lackof social relationship, a lack of communication abilities, and highly restricted range of interest. Autism is also known as pervasive development disorder (PDD). Children who are autistic alsolack in intellectual development. Autism occurs in 0. 04% of the population and it is also fourtimes more likely to occur in boys as in girls. Autism is a disorder that has no definiteexplanation and an effective treatment has not been developed.
There is no specific test forautism but it is defined by its symptoms (Paluszny, 1979). According to Murray (1996), there are four signs that almost always appear in childrendiagnosed as autistic: social isolation, cognitive deficits, language deficits, and ritualistic motoractivity. Social isolationThe first sign is social isolation; autistic children do not relate to surrounding people andmay remove themselves from all social contact. The autistic child does not seem to be aware ofthe persons in his or her environment. Autistic children have a hard time dealing withrelationships and this will go on into adulthood. Autistic children can also form an obsession forobjects, like a toy.
He can be content if left alone to play repetitively with some toy or object. Ifshe is interfered with, tantrums and uncontrollable crying may take place. Cognitive deficitsA second sign is cognitive deficits. Most individuals with autism are also mentallyretarded. A survey done by the University of Utah shows that sixty-six percent of the 241autistic individuals scored lower than a 70 on standardized IQ tests.
Autistic children usually dobetter on tests that deal with their sensorimotor abilities (Shulman, Yirmiya, & Greenbaum,1195). They may respond to only a limited number of cues. They seem not to see the worldfrom another’s point of view. Cognitive, social, and motor developments corresponds to mentalage rather than chronological age. Language deficitsNext, is the language deficits. More than one half of autistic children do not speak at all,or simply repeat what they hear from their surroundings or repeat what others say to them(Murray, 1996).
According to Sigman ; Capps (1997), autistic children in the early stages oflanguage development show frequent use of language to obtain a desired object, but less frequentuse of language to serve social functions. Mentally retarded autistic children who are able tounderstand and use language have broader life experiences. Ritualistic motor activity and preservation of samenessThe fourth is the ritualistic motor activity and preservation of sameness (Murray, 1996). Most autistic children tend to repeat a limited number of movements endlessly, such as rockingor head-banging.
Their behaviors are stereotypical, repetitive, and show no variation. Thebehaviors of an autistic child can become noticeable. Some behaviors can cause physical harm;sometimes they would show little or no response to pain. Autistic children are obsessed aboutkeeping their surroundings the same.
Everything must be in the same place. Less than onequarter of autistic children adjust to adolescence and adulthood. Between forty to seventypercent of people diagnosed with autism live their lives in institutions. Psychophysiological explanationsThere are no definite explanations for the childhood disorder and researchers have notdeveloped any effective treatments. Autism is a biological disorder. There are a number ofproposed explanations to autism.
According to Sternberg (1995), there are the psychodynamicexplanations, learning theory explanations, and cognitive explanations, but the most successfulone have been the psychophysiological explanations. Those who are autistic show noabnormalities of the brain, but they have discovered lesions in the brain stem of some children. Researchers have seen numerous differences by comparing the brains of children with autismwith the brains of children who does not have the disorder, They have also found enlargedventricles, reversed cerebral asymmetry, more active right than left cerebral hemispheres. Therehave also been some indications of biochemical imbalances in autistic children. There are alsofour neurophysiological explanations for autism (Murray, 1996). Genetic factorsGenetic factors have been studied in twins, siblings, and families (Murray, 1996).
Autismis significantly associated with the X syndrome and untreated phenylketonuria. Autism is alsocommon in siblings. A survey done by the University of Utah shows that familial rates ofautistic children’s siblings suffering from autism are over 200 times more likely than in thegeneral population. Minton, Campbell, Green, Jennings, and Samit compared thirty autisticchildren, ages two to six years old, with 50 siblings, three to nineteen .