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What is Autism?

Autism is a condition involving a range of difficulties including: impaired social interactions, development, and communication.

Autism is defined as a “neurological disorder of development” that affects the brain and the central nervous system.

It was first described in the 1940s by Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. Behaviors such as repetition, rigidity, and a decrease in interests are activities seen in those with autism.

Changes in Brain Function, synapses, emotions, learning ability, and memory are central to this condition, however, a complete understanding is lacking.

Some parents begin to be concerned as early as 6 months and notice symptoms gradually worsen after the first year. In some cases and prior to diagnosis, a child may be developing normally for a period of time and suddenly they regress in their progression.

“Normality” is then replaced with the previously described changes in functionality. Changes in personality, social interactions, and communications result and parents are often left confused and concerned.

Behavior concerns regress only rarely and are seen through childhood and into adulthood. Changes often begin around 2-3 years of age, but, some changes may occur under 1 year.

Autism is seen in 6 out of every 1,000 children with a prevalence 3 times higher in boys than in girls.

*** The number of autism cases per capita is increasing at an alarming rate.


1.)  Remains unknown
2.)  Genetic Basis
3.)  Genetic Mutations
4.)  Possible association with agents that cause birth defects [metals, pesticides, and vaccinations]

*** – controversial causes such as childhood vaccines are being investigated but currently minimal scientific evidence has been found.


Impairment of:

–  Social interaction
–  Communication
–  Maintaining eye contact
–  Speech pattern
–  Expressing emotionsAutismII

Other findings:

  –  Fixation on objects
–  Repetitive movements
–  Repetitive words or phrases
–  Increased pain tolerance
–  Unprovoked anger episodes
–  Rocking
–  Decreased desire for physical contact
–  Others


–  Seizures
–  Mental retardation
–  Anxiety
–  Metabolic defects

Similar disorders:

1.)  Asperger Syndrome
2.)  Rett Syndrome
3.)  Childhood disintegrate disorder
4.)  PPD not otherwise specified  (PPD = pervasive development disorders)


1.)  No babbling by 12 months
2.)  No specific hand movement by 12 months
3.)  No talking – specific words – by 16 months
4.)  Difficulty talking  – 2-word phrases by 24 months
5.)  A change, especially loss, of language and/or social skills – can occur at any age.

Autism research story


Several options are available for the improvement and control of several developmental areas.

A large amount of stresses including social, educational, family, public, and personal can be improved.

Management options:

1.)  Speech therapist
2.)  Occupational therapy
3.)  Social skills
4.)  Educational intervention


–  Anticonvulsants  – if symptoms are found
–  Antidepressants
–  Antipsychotics

Some individuals will continue management throughout their life and are higher functioning.

Few individuals though are able to live on their own and most require some level of supervision or help.

Some children improve in their symptoms after intense management, however, while others do so without any management.