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Discussion on Autism.

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Autism was first described by Leo Kanner in 1943 and is known to affect 1 in 500 Americans with boys being four times more likely to have autism than girls. Although the focus of research is on children, there are many adults who are living with autism. Research on Autism is relatively new, as in the past those with autism were grouped into the broad category of mental retardation. Autism falls under the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, PDD, which also includes Asperger's Disorder, Rett's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and PDD not otherwise specified (atypical autism). These disorders all differ from each other and within themselves differ in severity and level of functioning. Autism is a Spectrum Disorder which indicates that its symptoms can present themselves in various combinations which may range from mild to severe. It is extremely difficult to define a standard autistic person several terms, which also vary in severity, characterize the person. ...read more.


Short attention span is characteristic of an autistic person. Another area in which there is impairment is in the senses. The individual may be overly or under sensitive in the areas of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. To diagnose a person with autism, eight of the following sixteen characteristics must be present: 1) Marked lack of awareness of the existence of feelings of others 2) Onset during infancy or childhood 3) Unreasonable insistence on following routines in precise detail 4) Marked distress with changes in trivial aspects of environment such as a vase being moved from its usual place 5) Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects. 6) Stereotyped body movements such as hand flicking, twisting, spinning, head banging, tapping, or complex whole body movements 7) Absence of, or abnormal seeking of comfort at times of distress 8) Absence of, or impaired imitation 9) Impairment in making peer relationships 10) No mode of communication such as communicative babbling, gesture, facial expression, or spoken language 11) ...read more.


There is a condition called mild autism, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), in which the behaviors of the individual are not so obvious. In this case, it is even common for the level of intellectual ability to be above average. Even though the majority of individuals with autism are considered mentally retarded according to IQ measurements, there are approximately one-third who do not fall into the category of mental retardation. The expression of autistic behavior in mild autism may be in the form of a lack of ability to make friends, yet they are still able to relate to people. It also manifests itself in a way that causes the person to have difficulty initiating or carrying on a conversation, yet they may be able to go into detail on a single topic. Even though the person seems to be less severe, they still have moderate difficulty when it comes to speaking and responding to others, with misinterpretation of a social gesture being common. It is characteristic of those with autism from mild to severe to have restricted interests which limits their ability to relate socially leading them to depend on their autistic mannerisms. ...read more.

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