Autism or PPD (pervasive developmental disorder) isdefined by the Columbia encyclopedia as a rareneurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the inability torelate to and perceive the environment in a realistic manner. Theonset of the disorder is in infancy or early childhood, generallybefore the age of thirty months, and males are affected fourtimes as often as females. Symptoms include impairment insocial interaction, fixation on inanimate objects, inability tocommunicate normally, and resistance to changes in dailyroutine. Diagnosing Autism is based on four characteristics:difficulty with language, abnormal responses to sensory stimuli,resistance to change and difficulty with social interaction. “Othercharacteristics of autism may include: making the samerepetitive motion for hours, repeating a sound or phrase, inabilityto hold a conversation, practicing unusual play patterns, andextreme sensitivity to sound and touch.Order now
” Autistics can exhibitany combination of these characteristics in any degree. That iswhy autism is referred to as a “spectrum” disorder, because atone end of the disorder a child may be inflicted with somesymptoms, while at the opposite end a child may be inflicted withmultiple symptoms with many areas in between. Children whodisplay few symptoms may be characterized as “mildly autistic”. The cause for autism remains unclear, although mostneurological studies seem to indicate a dysfunction in the brainas a possible reason. Autism has been found in children withbrain abnormalities such as congenital rubella syndrome,neurofibromatosis, and tuberous sclerosis.
Autism can also bepresent in genetic syndromes such as fragile X syndrome andphenylketonuria. Some research has shown that there may be anautism gene, or two genes working together. These genes arethought to be on the seventh and thirteenth chromosome. Thedisorder may be hereditary as shown by twin studies that citethere is a “substantially higher rate in identical twins-so much sothat heritablity is over 90%”, says Joseph Piven.
In a HarvardMental Health letter statistics found that the rate of autism andmild retardation in brothers, sisters and fraternal twins ofautistics is 50-100 times higher than average and in identicaltwins the rate is 65% to 90%. In 1980 it was found that among 11families with a father diagnosed with autism more than half oftheir children were autistic. The apparently normal parents ofautistic children had undiagnosed mild symptoms of autism whentested. Early signs of Autism may appear in the first months of life. Autistic infants tend to stray away from other people, avoidingtouch and become limp or stiff when picked up or help.
Autisticchildren dont reach maturation as fast as normal children. Anormal child will point to objects or smile when seeing theirmother before the end of their first year, but children with autismdevelop this behavior much later. These symptoms may go onunnoticed by parents or doctors in infancy, but by the age of twoto three it is clear that something is wrong. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states thatone in 500 children in America suffer from autism. Autisticchildren are unable to recognize themselves or remember thingsthat they have just done. For example, if an autistic child were toshow someone a toy of theirs, they would forget they have justshowed it and show the toy repeatedly as if they have neverpresented it before.
They may examine a simple little toy orelectronic device for hours without losing interest, or rock backand forth in a particular spot for an entire afternoon. Therepetition of little things seem to be a grand achievement forthese children. In diagnosing, or assessing autism the child’s history istaken into consideration. For instance whether or not the familyhas autism in any other branches of its tree can help todetermine whether a child may or may not have autism. TheJournal of the American Academy of Child and AdolescentPsychiatry states: Aspects of the assessment will vary dependingon the child’s age, history, and previous evaluations.
The historywould include the history of the pregnancy and development ofthe child, marking such milestones as communication and motorskills (ex. child’s first words or steps), and when thought to beunusual. Doctors will often discuss their medical history, such aspossibility of seizures, hearing and visual impairments along withother conditions or syndromes such as fragile X syndrome. Doctors will do this because there is not a specific laboratorytest for autism at this point in time. These studies anddiscussions help in the search for a diagnosis.A test for fragile Xsyndrome may be given because .