Autism Essay

991 WordsApr 1, 20094 Pages
Autism Autism or Autistic Disorder typically refers to the traditional or classical forms of what psychiatrist Leo Kanner identified in 1943 and labeled as “early infantile autism” (Yapko, 2003, p. 24). Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees (Zager, 1999. p. 3). Autism is one of five disorders that falls under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “severe and pervasive” impairment in several areas of development. PDD includes: Autism or Autistic Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder–Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) which includes Atypical Autism. These disorders affect three primary areas of development: communication (verbal and nonverbal), social interaction and repetitive patterns of behavior, interest and activities. They have been grouped together under the single heading Pervasive Developmental Disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), the American Psychiatric Association’s “bible” for diagnosing mental conditions (Yapko, 2003, p. 24). There is no known single cause for autism, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism versus neuro-typical children. Researchers are investigating a number of theories, including the link between heredity, genetics and medical problems. In many families, there appears to be a pattern of autism or related disabilities,

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