Term Paper: Autism if a Man Does Not Keep

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Autism

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away."

Henry David Thoreau

Developmental Psychology predominantly remains the study of change over time. Various research designs can be utilized to aid in understanding the process over time in cognitive, physical, and social domain. As the number of school age children diagnosed with autism continues to grow, professionals and parents should collaborate on concerns regarding overlooked developmental needs within the condition. To achieve a better understanding of contemporary theories and concepts, researchers compare and contrast cross sectional and longitudinal designs as methodology for investigation social skills in children with autism. According to Chang (2008), autism is a developmental disability that causes delay in academic and social interactions. This researcher will examine the details regarding autism and its effects on social and academic interactions.

Literature

Autism was once considered to be a hopeless cause. Autism affects approximately 3.4 out of every child ages 3-10 and causes many children to live unfulfilled lives and causes disruptions within their family. Symptoms usually show up around the age of three years old but in some cases, the symptoms can be detected by eighteen months. Parents usually detect something is wrong with the child and the behavior being exhibited by the child. Autistic children develop at rates different than other children. One of the most common signs of autism is repetitive behavior. The slightest change in routines or in the way they organize items can be severely disturbing to the child.

Autism can be broken down into other groups that resemble the symptoms of autism. Martin Kutsher, MD, (2006) in the article, "Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Sorting it Out" reports the following information regarding the different forms of Autistic Spectrum Disorders:

"The Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), defined in DSM-IV by the American Psychiatry Academy. These are a series of five diagnoses -- of which autism is the most commonly discussed. "Pervasive" means that the problem cuts across multiple types of communication. These five disorders are:

Autistic Disorder

Severely disordered verbal and non-verbal language; unusual behaviors.

Asperger's Syndrome

Relatively good verbal language, with "milder" non-verbal language problems; restricted range of interests and relatedness.

PDD-NOS

Non-verbal language problems not meeting strict criteria for other PDD disorders.

Rett's Disorder*

Rare neurodegenerative disorder of girls.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder*

Neurologists are scratching their head on this one, and assume psychiatrists mean neurodegenerative disorders.

There are other forms of disorders that are also closely related.

Three main functions that are problems for autistic children are in behavior, relationships, and communication. In regards to behavior, the autistic child usually finds one to two behaviors that bring them happiness. Attempting to stop this behavior leads to violent outbursts or tantrums. In relationships, the same stimuli that other babies find enjoyable may not be to the autistic child. They often avoid physical affection because they cannot relay social cues to alert people to when they desire attention or if they want to be left alone. Last, communication may be delayed in the autistic child. They often relate to one word or group of words repeating them constantly. Others invent their own dialect or simply point to what they desire.

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSE) (2010) breaks down the symptoms even more on its website reporting the following:

does not socially interact well with others, including parents shows a lack of interest in, or rejection of physical contact. Parents describe autistic infants as "unaffectionate." Autistic infants and children are not comforted by physical contact.

avoids making eye contact with others, including parents fails to develop friends or interact with other children does not communicate well with others is delayed or does not develop language once language is developed, does not use language to communicate with others has echolalia (repeats words or phrases repeatedly, like an echo)

demonstrates repetitive behaviors has repetitive motor movements (such as rocking and hand or finger flapping)

is preoccupied, usually with lights, moving objects, or parts of objects does not like noise has rituals requires routines.

The symptoms and the degree that it affects the child vary in the different children making autism hard to be diagnosed. Childdevelopmentinfo.com (2010), in "Understanding Autism," contends, "The first signs of autism may also appear in children who had been developing normally. When an affectionate, babbling toddler suddenly becomes silent, withdrawn, violent, or self-abusive, something is wrong." Autistic children can exhibit all the characteristics of normal children and change almost instantly around the age of three years.

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga (as cited by National Institutes for Mental Health (2010) in the article, "Autism Spectrum Disorders") reported data that includes these figure as related to autism:

Data from an earlier report of the CDC's Atlanta-based program found the rate of autism spectrum disorder was 3.4 per 1,000 for children 3 to 10 years of age. Summarizing this and several other major studies on autism prevalence, CDC estimates that 2-6 per 1,000 (from 1 in 500 to 1 in 150) children have an ASD. The risk is 3-4 times higher in males than females. Compared to the prevalence of other childhood conditions, this rate is lower than the rate of mental retardation (9.7 per 1,000 children), but higher than the rates for cerebral palsy (2.8 per 1,000 children), hearing loss (1.1 per 1,000 children), and vision impairment (0.9 per 1,000 children).3 The CDC notes that these studies do not provide a national estimate.

Autism rates are growing at an alarming rate around the entire world. Autism is a neurological disorder effecting 3 main areas of life: repetitive behavior, communications, and interacting socially. Bellini, Akullian, and Hopf (2007) in the article, "Increasing Social Engagement in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Using Video Self-Modeling," declare, "The significant deficits in functioning can be taxing for school psychologists and other school personnel, who often are presented with limited time, resources, and training. Compounding matters are the number of students identified with and its related disorders."

Autism causes cannot be easily determined but research is gathering more information on a daily basis. Researchers and scientist studying the brain through technologies that include: computerized tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are discovering some of the difference between normal and autistic children. (Figure 1 in appendices). A defective gene or genes is being considered as the cause of the disease as well as abnormalities in both brain structure and the chemicals in the brain.

One autistic man has written several papers and speaks at numerous engagements trying to educate the world about autism through his own eye. James Williams, a 21-year-old high autistic man wrote in one of his online essays about autism stating people with autism often fail to understand rule of socializing or they refuse to accept the rules which they relate to as unimportant. James has written in one essay what he considers the unspoken rules of autistic interaction. These rules are:

1. It is more important to tell the truth than to be polite, unless the person you are talking to specifically states that their feelings are easily hurt.

2. There is no such thing as an interruption or talking too much during a conversation.

3. It is always okay to say no to someone else rather than to create a fictitious excuse for why you can't do something with a friend.

4. Information is neither good nor bad, neither appropriate nor inappropriate. It simply exists.

5. Relationships are often oriented around mutual mental interests and not physical appearance or attraction, or gender.

6. There are exceptions to all social rules; in fact, even the social rules mentioned above aren't always followed.(Williams, 2010)

Parents must encourage the autistic child into expressing themselves without feeling they rules of the average person apply to them. These children need to be encouraged if they are going to learn to interact with their peers.

Therapy between average and autistic children during free play has been reported as having excellent results in desensitizing the autistic child to situations that can be stressful. Behavioral therapies are an excellent way to teach autistic children and average children to interact. Two approaches that have seen significant results involve teaching sharing, eye contact, and touching as forms of social behavior and the second involves educating and using peers to initiate interactions with the autistic children. (McEvoy et al., 1988) Interactions learned early in life seem to determine the level of social ability exhibited as an adult.

Motivation is the essential element in helping autistic children to react in environmental and social situations. Repeated failures discourage normal children must less autistic children. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, (2010), in discussing the need to test an autistic child beyond assessment test, states, "This becomes a motivation problem because his/her academic program will consist of previously learned tasks, instead of learning new tasks. Those children… [END OF PREVIEW]

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