Autism Essay is a neurobiological disorder. It is defined by the American
Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual as a disorder with serious
problems in three major areas. These are serious impairments in social
interaction, communication and the presence of repetitive, stereotyped
actions, behavior and activities. In this essay I will cover the topics of
major characteristics in autism, theories of causes, physical and sensory
impairments, treatments and my personal experience with autism. Autism is a
varied disorder that affects people in different ways and is still poorly
understood and few treatments are available.
Many autistic infants are different from birth. Two common characteristics
they may show include arching their back away from their caregiver to avoid
physical contact and failing to anticipate being picked up (i.e., becoming
limp). As infants, they are often described as either passive or overly
agitated babies. A passive baby refers to one who is quiet most of the time
making little, if any, demands on his/her parents.
An overly agitated baby
refers to an infant who cries a great deal, sometimes non-stop, during
his/her waking hours. During infancy, many begin to rock and/or bang their
head against the cot; but this is not always the case.
In the first few years of life, some autistic toddlers reach developmental
milestones, such as talking, crawling, and walking, much earlier than the
average child; whereas others are considerably delayed. Approximately one-
half of autistic children develop normally until somewhere between 1 1/2 to
3 years of age; then autistic symptoms begin to emerge. These individuals
are often referred to as having ‘regressive’ autism. Some people in the
field believe that yeast overgrowths, vaccinations, exposure to a virus, or
the onset of seizures may be responsible for this regression.
During childhood, autistic children may fall behind their same-aged peers
in the areas of communication, social skills, and cognition. Also,
dysfunctional behaviors may start to appear, such as self-stimulatory
behaviors (i.e., repetitive, non-goal directed behavior, such as rocking,
hand-flapping), self-injury (e.g., hand-biting, head banging), sleeping and
eating problems, poor eye contact, insensitivity to pain, hyper-/hypo-
activity, and attention deficits.
One characteristic which is quite common in autism is the individual’s
‘insistence on sameness’ or ‘preservative’ behavior. Many children become
overly insistent on routines; if one is changed, even slightly, the child
may become upset and tantrum. Some common examples are: drinking and/or
eating the same food items at every meal, wearing certain clothing or
insisting that others wear the same clothes, and going to school using the
same route. A possible reason for ‘insistence on sameness’ may be the
person’s inability to understand and cope with different situations.
Autistic individuals sometimes have difficulty with the transition to
puberty. Approximately 25% have seizures for the first time during puberty
which may be due to hormonal changes.
In addition, many behavior problems
can become more frequent and more severe during this period. However,
others experience puberty with relative ease.
In contrast to 20 years ago when many autistic individuals were
institutionalized, there are now many flexible living arrangements.
Usually, only the most severe individuals live in institutions. In
adulthood, some people with autism live at home with their parents; some
live in residential facilities; some live semi-independently (such as in a
group home); and others live independently. There are autistic adults who
graduate from college and receive graduate degrees; and some develop adult
relationships and may marry.
In the work environment, many autistic adults
can be reliable and conscientious workers.
Is Autism a Disability?
Well-adapted autistic people and autistic people who are close to being
adequately adapted to function independently have naturally brought up the
question whether Autism should be considered a disability, or whether it
should simply be considered a somewhat different kind of personality. On
the other hand, there are definitely autistic people who need constant
supervision and help simply to get through life.
Even though there is no known single cause of autism, there is growing
evidence that autism can be caused by a collection of problems. There is
some sign of a genetic influence in autism. Currently, a great deal of
research has focused on locating the ‘autism gene;’ however, many
researchers think that three to five genes will likely be associated with
There is also evidence that the genetic link to autism may be a
through the passing on of a weakened immune system. Other research has
shown that depression and/or dyslexia are quite common in one or both sides
of the family when autism is present.
There is also evidence that a virus may cause autism. There is a bigger
risk in having an autistic child after exposure to .