Autism

Genetic Disorder

(Other) What is Autism?

Autism has become the most commonly diagnosed childhood developmental disorder. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention in 2007, autism now affect 1 in every 150 children in the United States. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and other government agencies indicate that autism diagnoses are increasing at the rate of 10 to 17 percent per year.
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Signs and Symptoms

Autism usually develops before 3 years of age and affects each individual differently and to varying degrees. It ranges in severity from relatively mild social and communicative impairments to a severe disability requiring lifelong parental, school and societal support.

The hallmark symptom of autism is impaired social interaction. Children with autism may fail to respond to their name and often avoid eye contact with other people. They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they don't understand social cues provided by tone of voice or facial expressions and they don't watch other people's faces to pick up on these cues.

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Causes

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 in neurotypical children. Researchers are investigating a number of theories.
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Treatment

There is currently no cure for autism. However, autism can be managed and shaped at a young age, even as early as pre-school. Early intensive therapy can have a positive effect on development later in life. Treatment of autism involves medical and behavioral therapies to help children with conversational language and social interactions. Treatment also involves helping children decrease their repetitive, self-stimulatory behaviors, tantrums and self-injurious behavior.

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Long and Short term effects

It is however clear that this is a life long disorder that will leave its impact one way or another on the individual's life. Autism has its origins in the first weeks or months of life. It is characterized by marked problems in social interaction, as well as by delayed and deviant communication development and various other behaviors which are usually subsumed in the term ‘insistence on sameness.