Term Paper: Autism Disorder

Pages: 15 (4038 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] But for current purposes the IQ test does report that the majority of autistic children are mentally retarded. "Autistic children generally do better on tests of sensorimotor ability, such as finding hidden figures, than on tests of language and social awareness. Twenty autistic children in special schools in London, matched in mental age with 20 normal children and 20 nonautistic mildly mentally retarded children, performed significantly better on the Children's Embedded Figures Tests than the two control groups, and they used qualitatively different strategies. Autistic children may respond to only a limited number of cues and may not be distracted from the central figure of a puzzle (Murray, 1996)."

Another study found that autistic children are able to mimic behavior. This was an extremely important discovery because it provided an understanding of the way that autistic children might be able to learn the proper social responses that they need to function in any group or social setting in life (Murray, 1996).

Language Deficits

Many autistic children have problems with speech and language that are particular to children with the autistic disorder. Results of research studies have concluded and agreed that more than half of the children with autism do not respond independently with independent thought, but instead they mimic what they have seen others do. All children do this initially because it is expected of them from the adults who are modeling for them, but eventually the non-affected child understands why it is a proper response and begins to give it in the proper places for the socially accepted and correct reasons. The autistic child will never grasp or understand why this is needed and the most they can do is be taught to mimic responses that have been modeled for them many times more than needed for the non-affected child (Murray, 1996).

More than one half of all autistic children do not speak at all, or simply echo what others say, or repeat snatches of television commercials. Some use personal pronouns strangely, referring to themselves as "you," or "he," or "she." Those most likely to benefit from treatment usually will have developed some meaningful speech by 5 years of age (Murray, 1996)."

Ritualistic Motor Activity and Preservation of Sameness

The most often recognized sign that a child may be autistic is the need to perform ritualistic motor behaviors over and over again. The autistic child needs a sense of sameness and that goes to the way the day is planned, to what they wear, to what their body does each day.

Most children with autism display this symptom. It is a symptom that causes them to repeat a body motion over and over again sometimes hundreds or thousands of times a day. Some of the more typical behaviors regarding motor activities that are seen in children with autism include hand flapping, and rocking. The hand flapping often done in front of the face or just near the eyes. It is often a reaction to stimuli that excited the autistic child regardless of the fact that it is a positive or a negative reaction. The rocking is the same thing. These are both things that are thought to be self soothing for the autistic child when the outside world stimuli gets to be to much and the autistic child becomes overwhelmed.

Most autistic children tend to repeat a limited number of movements endlessly and without any clear goal. Twirling, hand flapping, and rocking are common, especially in institutionalized and psychotic children. Some stereotypical behavior can cause physical harm. Autistic children usually are anxious and obsessive about keeping surroundings completely the same. Toys must always be in the same place. Normal children at 2 1/2 years of age may also insist on unvarying routines, suggesting that development of autistic children may be stalled at this point (Murray, 1996)." http://www.autism.com/ari/dds/dds.html

GENETIC RESEARCH

Now that the world knows there is a biological component and cause to autism, the genetic research about it has begun. "Current research in autism points to genetic influences as important etiologically (Folstein & Piven, 1991; Folstein & Rutter, 1988; Nelson, 1991; Yirmiya & Sigman, 1991). Folstein and Rutter (1977a, 1977b) found 11 pairs of monozygotic (MZ) and 10 pairs of dizygotic (DZ) twins in England, in which at least one of the twins was autistic. Four of the 11 MZ twins were concordant, whereas none of the DZ twins were concordant. An MZ twin who was not diagnosed as autistic was likely to be markedly impaired in language or cognition. Although based on a small sample, the results suggest some genetic component in autism (Murray, 1996). "

Studies have also uncovered genetic factors in autistic male triplets in Sweden and in England. The degree by which the triplets were affected by the autism did vary in the English study according to the published results.

One of the things that researchers have been looking at is the incidence of autism among the general population as compared to the degree and frequency of autism among autistic siblings. The studies indicate that there is a higher incidence of autism among children who have a sibling with the disorder than there is in the general population.

In the effort to locate causes of the disorder one study provided additional B6 to autistic children in a double blind cross study. The results indicated that the B6 was helping autistic children reduce their symptoms where as the non-vitamin group had a reported worsening of symptoms.

Another genetic possibility that has been discovered is a possible correlation between low birth weight and autism. One such study showed that the triplet weighing the least amount had more severe autism problems than the twin who had the highest birth weight.

One interesting find in the study of genetics and autism is the higher incidence of epilepsy among children and adults who have autism. This may help future studies determine the area of the brain that the disorder is caused in. http://www.autism.com/ari/dds/dds.html

Figure 1 - Distribution of Birth Dates of Regional Center Eligible

Persons with Autism

The above chart details the increase in autism discoveries and needs for services throughout the last four decades. This chart does not necessarily mean that it is occurring more often but does indicate an increased need for services and programs as the autism population continues to grow. http://www.autism.com/ari/dds/dds.html

Figure 3 - Age Distribution for Autistic Population in 1987 and 1998

WORKING WITH THE CHILDREN

Over the years there have been many discoveries about the way autism affects the child. It is important to tap into the windows of opportunity so that the autistic child can be led to correct social responses and group interactions. Autistic children are able to mimic even though they will not understand why the response they are giving is the proper and correct response. Over the years a method of teaching autistic children through modeling the desired behavior has emerged. One studied tested the theory that modeling responses and behaviors would teach the autistic children how to react in the setting. The steps that were used in the study included (Strain, 1995):

Setup. Eight categories of adult behavior occurring before the session were coded (Strain, 1995)

Introduce Strategies: Adult introduces any of the five skills that were taught in the video.

Other Discussion/Review: The adult teaches strategies that were not shown on the videotape.

Describe Skills: If "yes" was coded for Introduce Strategies, the specific skills the adult reviewed were checked off.

Role Play: Adult acts out how to perform specific Strategies with one or both children (e.g., "Let's pretend I'm Blain and you want to share with me...").

Rehearse: Adult has the two children practice strategies together.

Introduce Rules/Guidelines: Adult gives the children rules to follow during the session (e.g., "You have to play with Blain for the next 5 minutes" or "The two of you need to stay in this area for the whole session").

Contingency: Adult formally or informally offers some type of reward or reinforcer to the children for doing what she or he asks during the session.

Goals/Objectives: Any specific intentions or ambitions that the adult specifies for the session are listed here.

During. Four categories of adult behavior occurring during the session were coded. These included:

Prompts: Reminders could be specific or general in nature. An example of the general is the adult cueing the children with nonspecific directions such as "play together," or "give an idea." An example of the specific is the adult encouraging the children to interact by using specific strategies such as "share the crayon," or "ask for help coloring."

Questions: The adult asks questions during the session that attempt to get the children… [END OF PREVIEW]

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