Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Amber Zogg

The History of Autism

The word Autism which has been used for about 100 years comes from the Greek word "autos" which means self. This term describes the condition where a person with this disorder removes themselves from society and becomes secluded. Eugen Bleuler (a Swiss psychiatrist) was the first to use this term in 1911 to describe certain groups of people with schizophrenia. In 1940 scientists in the U.S started to use the term to describe children with social or emotional problems. At about the same time Hans Asperger noticed a similar condition now known as "Asperger's syndrome". Autism was linked with different disorders and diseases until the 60's when scientist began to see differences between Autism and other diseases in children. During the 60's and 70's scientists found ways to treat Autism such as LSD, electric shock, and behavior changing techniques, but during the 80's and 90's the use of controlled learning environments emerged.

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What Causes Autism

Although all the causes of autism are not known as of now, but it has been discovered that there are many different causes for many different types of ASD. Many of these causes can be environmental, biologic and genetic.

  • Many people agree that genes are one of the biggest risk factors for developing ASD.
  • Being around siblings who have ASD puts the other children in the house at a greater risk of developing ASD.
  • A fragile X syndrome or other chromosomal conditions can be a cause of ASD.
  • Prescription drugs valproic acid and thalidomide have been linked to cause ASD during pregnancy.
  • Before, during, and directly after birth are the critical period when ASD can develop.
  • Children being born to older parents are at a greater risk of developing ASD.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Normally people who have autism have social, emotional, and communication problems. They will repeat certain behaviors and won't want to change their daily activities. They have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Normally signs can be seen at an early age.

  • Not pointing at an object or showing any interest
  • Not looking at an object when other people point to it
  • Having trouble relating to other people or having no interest in them at all
  • Avoiding eye contact and wanting to be left alone
  • Not being able to feel empathy or talk about their feelings
  • Don't want to be held or cuddled or only when they want to
  • Unaware when other people talk to them but react to other sounds
  • Being interested in others but not knowing how to interact or relate to them
  • Repeating words or phrases said to them in place of normal language
  • Can't express their needs with words or expressions
  • Can't play "pretend" games
  • Repeat the same actions over and over
  • Trouble adapting to new routines
  • Weird reactions to the way things look, smell, taste, feel or sound
  • And they lose skills they once had

Treatment and Prevention

There is currently no cure for ASD, but scientists say that early intervention treatment services help children ages birth-three learn important skills. Services can include therapy to teach them to walk, talk and interact with others. There are medications that can help people with autism function better. Medications might help control high energy levels, focus, depression, and seizures. There are many ways of treating ASD and more are still being discovered.