In this term paper, I will be discussing the disorder of Autism, a sever disorder that affects the function of the brain. It causes problems in such areas as social contact, intelligence, language and speech impediments, along with ritualistic or compulsive behaviors, as well as different responses to the environment that an autistic individual may have different than individuals not having autism would exhibit. I will be talking generally about the history and description of autism, the cause, affected age group, signs and symptoms that mark a autistic individual, the people who an autistic individual may go to for medical help and treatment, the actual treatment that a autistic person may receive, risk factors that a autistic person may encounter, how you would asses someone with autism, activities that a individual who has autism may take part in, and also the long term affects and treatment goals for someone who has autism should be trying to accomplish. I feel that by doing all of this that I will gain a greater sense of understanding for individuals with autism so as to better help them if I should ever have the privilege to work with an autistic person. I will be giving this information to you by going through each topic that I have outlined in the introduction and explaining what each means and how they affect an individual with autism.
Definition of Autism
Before anything else, I feel that I should give a scientific definition of Autism. Autism is a sever disorder of brain function marked by problems with social contact, intelligence and language, together with ritualistic or compulsive behavior and bizarre responses to the environment.
Autism is a disorder that, as of right now, you have for a lifetime. It interferes with the individual’s ability to understand what is seen, heard, and touched. This can cause tremendous problems in personal behavior and in the ability to relate and communicate with others. A person with autism has to be taught to communicate normally and how to have relationships with people, objects and events in their lives. However, not all individuals suffer to the same degree of impairment. There is a whole area of different symptoms that individuals can suffer from, which can range from mild symptoms to severe. Autism occurs in as many as one or two per 1,000 children. It is four times more often in boys (usually more often than not, the first born) and it does not discriminate (occurs around the world in all races and social backgrounds). While a individual can have symptoms ranging from the very mild to sever, around %10 have an extraordinary ability in one area of the 9 multiple intelligences, such as mathematics, music, memory, or art. Such individuals were once referred to as “idiot savants”, but now that the world has expanded and realized their ignorance, they are now called “autistic savants”.
Affected Age Group
Autism is usually found in a individual within the first three years of life, but can be not seen for very long after that. It can be very hard to tell sometimes when the problem develops in some children, sometimes the condition isn’t found until the child enters into school and it is spotted by someone who is around children and can see the symptoms because of experience.
Signs and Symptoms
Autism is a brain disorder that affects the way the brain uses the information sent to it or the way that it transmits the information it receives. Some studies have found that abnormalities in many parts of the brain have almost always occurred during the time of fetal development. The problem may be centered in the parts of the brain responsible for processing language and information from your senses.
Autism appears to have a strong genetic base. Twins that are identical are more likely to be both affected by autism then twins of a fraternal nature. In a family who has one autistic child, the chances of having another child that has autism is about one in twenty, much more greater then the population of families who do not have a autistic child. In some cases, there are relatives of an autistic child who my display the mild behaviors that are very similar to the autistic individual in the family, such as repetitive behaviors and social or communication problems. Problems of an emotional nature (such as manic depression) occur most often in families of an individual with autism.
There is a link between one abnormal gene and autism. The gene may be just one of at least three of 5 genes that interact in some way to cause the condition. Scientist suspect that a faulty gene or genes may make a person vulnerable to develop autism in the presence of other factors, such as chemical imbalance, viruses or chemicals, or a lack or oxygen at birth.
=Rubella in the pregnant mother
=Fragile X Syndrome
The severity of the condition is different from case to case, ranging from the most sever (extremely unusual, repetitive, self-injuring, aggressive behaviors) to very mild, such as a simple learning challenge. Problems with social interactions are the most common symptoms related to autism. Babies with the disorder will not be as cuddly as usual. They want very little human contact with anyone. They may not even smile or lift their arms in the situation of being picked up by a parent like a baby without autism would. They may not form a bond with the parents and also may not show any or little anxiety toward people that they do not know. Individuals with autism may not learn childhood games such as peak-a-boo or other such games of that nature.
A child with autism may not speak at all. And if he/she does, it is often single words. They may endlessly say words over and over that are the reverse of what they mean, such as “you got to sleep” instead of “I want to go to sleep”.
A child with autism may ignore objects or become obsessively attached to them. Many of these individuals may react to sounds differently, doing things such as banging their head or waving fingers in the air.
Most autistic children appear to be moderately mentally challenged. They may giggle or cry for no reason, have no fear of real, impending danger, but exhibit terror of harmless objects.
There are many places a person with autism should go, depending on the severity of their case and what symptoms they are being affected by. If they have speech problems then a speech therapist would be a start. Therapeutic Recreational Specialists can help develop programs that will help them create co-ordination and hopefully some social skills, but it all depends on the individual and the symptoms that are dominant in them.
Unfortunately, there is no current cure for autism. Treatments are aimed at minimizing specific symptoms. Because the symptoms that someone may have very a lot from case to case, there is no single approach to a treatment that is universal. Individuals may be trained in music, listening, vision, speech, and language, and senses. Special diets and medications may also be prescribed. With proper treatment, people with autism can improve significantly in their lives. A child with autism can learn best with special teachers in a special setting to meet the individual’s need. The two most often studied types of treatment are:
Educational or Behavioral Treatment
Behavioral related treatments are used to help the child respond to decreased symptoms. This may include positive reinforcement to boost language and social skills. The training may include structured, skills-oriented instruction made to boost social and language skills. Training needs to begin in the early stages of life, since early intervention appears to influence brain development.
Most experts in the area of autism believe that modern treatment is most effective if it is carried out in the home of the individual, although the treatment, although treatment may also take place in a psychiatric hospital, specialized school, or day care program.
There is no single treatment that has yet proved effective for the major features of autism However, a variety of drugs can control self-injurious, aggressive, and other of the more hard to control behaviors. Drugs also can control epilepsy, which afflicts up to 20% of individuals with autism.
Many parents of autistic children may also consider the Megavitamin Therapy. Some studies have shown that vitamin B6 improves eye contact and speech and this vitamin also treats tantrum behaviors. It causes less side effects than other medications and is considered safe when used appropriately by the individual. However, not many health practitioners advocate its use in the treatment of autism, citing that the studies showing its benefits were flawed.
This compound, found in many health food stores, is legally classified as a food, not a vitamin or a drug. Some researches say that it improves speech in autistic children. Those who respond to the treatment will usually do so within a week of starting the treatment. Again, many of the doctors do not feel that the studies are adequate to advocate for this treatment.
Vigorous exercises (20 minutes or longer, three or four days a week) seem to decrees hyperactivity, aggression, self-injury, and other autistic symptoms.
There are many risk factors associated with autism. People who have had a traumatic birth, due to complications of a natural or maybe environmental factors, such as rough doctors, may cause a child to be autistic. When there is a history of allergies in the family, there is a better chance of someone having an autistic child. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or low thyroid in the mother may also cause a autistic child to be born to the mother of the child. When there is a history of chronic problems, including constipation, chronic diarrhea, or reflux in the family, the children of people in this family are at a greater risk of being born with autism then if there was no history of it at all. History of an extended immunization reaction in the family also is a risk factor for a child being born with autism.
There are many risk factors that can contribute to the chances that a child will be born to a family and be autistic, but there is no way to prevent some of them. That’s the saddest part about it. If we could only lessen the factors that are related to someone having an autistic child, then we could really cut back on the number of autistic births worldwide. But for now, all we can do is educate people on what the risk factors are and hopefully decrease the number of children that are born with the disorder.
The assessment of a child suspected to have autism consists of many parts. Observations of the individual at school or day-care, depending on where the child is at their stage of growing, and also a number of different settings at these places. EX: play, class work, recess, morning and meal times and snack times.
Discussions with staff in the above settings will help you to find what the child was like in the past before your presence at the facility, letting you know if they have changed since you have be brought there or if they are still the same.
Formal assessments either in the above places or in the home of the child to determine how they react to you on a personal level as a stranger, and to see if the parents have any input to behaviors that they may have noticed in the past of lately that can be attributed to autistic behavior.
An extensive interview with the parents or caregiver of the individual expected to have autism. This should not take any longer than 2-3 hours and should be done in the home of the people involved. This gives the assessor a chance to find out the Childs current behavior and also what the child’s progress has been like from birth to present.
There are many activities tailored to the special needs that an autistic individual may have. But it depends on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, if a child is extremely intelligent in math, but may lack social skills, then maybe a program tailored to meet the needs of this individual could have a bit of math involved, because they enjoy math, but also try and incorporate social interaction into the activity, slowly at first, but as time goes on, add more and more people to the program and it should be easier for the individual to adjust to a big group once they have had enough experience with a smaller one.
Some children may have a difficulty in recognizing facial expressions in the people around them. A way to help a child with this is to sit face to face and for you to make different facial expressions and try to get the child to guess what expression it is that you are showing. This will probably be enjoyable to the child, and also teach him the expressions that he can show and that that’s what the people around him are feeling.
Some autistic children may like arts and crafts. This is great because by having them make different things with these materials could help them learn many different things. Get the child to make different shapes and to learn the different names to the shapes. You could get them to learn about an endless array of different things, just by having them make crafts in the images that you provide them.
If the child is highly intelligent in music, then you can do many different things to help the child have fun and learn at the same time. There are many education songs that the child may enjoy and that would help him to learn about different things that maybe they would have had a hard time to learn it they had to do it a different way.
If an autistic child is gifted in the area of reading, then this would be good because they can read on anything. There is a whole world open to the individual if they can read. And you can make games out of reading. See if they may like to have a race to see who can read the fastest or the most material in a set amount of time. There is so many different opportunities to an autistic child that can read.
Long-term Affects and Treatment Goals
While there is no cure for autism, with the right treatment, the negative behaviors that the individual may have will improve. The goals of the treatments vary, depending on the case. The main objectives of the treatments are to increase the underdeveloped traits of the individual and sustain the developed traits at the same time. Maybe not an easy goal, but with time and training, it can be done.
This assignment has taught me a lot about autism and the different aspects of the disorder. I don’t think that I would have been able to understand how hard life would be like if I was to have autism, and I don’t think that I still yet fully understand, no one can, unless they have autism. But I feel a new understanding and respect for these individuals and in time I feel that I will learn more about them and hopefully understand them better.
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