The term “autism” covers a variety of brain development disorders. It is also commonly referred to as “Autism Spectrum Disorder” and both terms are used interchangeably. The wide range of disorders are displayed in difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communications, social interaction and repetitive behaviors.
While some people with autism can be gifted in areas like music, art, and math they can struggle with attention, motor coordination and sometimes problems with the digestive system.
Common types of autism include Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome and other development disorders that are not always classified with specific clinical names.
Every person with Autism will exhibit different symptoms and at varying levels. While many autistic individuals can function in society by generally relying on their strengths such as advanced skills in music and math, etc.; some are disabled to the point where they may not communicate with others at all and can not live by themselves.
Because of this wide range of disorders we often will say that a person is “on the spectrum” when we talk about autism. Current statistics indicate that as many as 1 in 88 children suffer from some sort of autism.
Opponents to some of the diagnoses say that medical professionals are using autism as a catch all term and that people are frequently being misdiagnosed as being autistic when in fact there may be nothing wrong with them at all.
This has raised a lot of controversy in the medical community. If you’d like to voice your opinion on the matter I have posted my own poll on my Facebook page.
Problems with social interaction are prevalent in autistic people. Many times they have a set pattern of behavior and can become very agitated if asked to vary from their routine. They may react “out of the norm” to some stimuli such as thunder or be unable to understand others feelings.
These types of behaviors are viewed as “strange” by their peers and they are often avoided by them making them even less able to engage in social conventional behavior.
Signs of autism are generally present by the age of 2 or 3, which will often include the child being slow to learn to speak and not wanting to play or communicate at all with others. Some children seem normal and then suddenly start to regress.
Because autism seems to be a product of early brain development, the common school of thought is that intervention and therapy at a very young age is crucial to reducing the long term effects of autism.
Unfortunately since there is no known cause there is also not an actual “cure for autism”, but there is ample evidence to indicate that some individuals do recover with proper therapy.