A statement released by Brian J, Gleberson, DC, a Bedford Park College Associate Professor, in his study about autism in 2001 states that “Autism has overtaken other childhood afflictions . . . to become the most common pediatric neurological condition affecting children worldwide.”
Indeed, children’s diagnosis with autism was recorded to have an exponential increase since the 1970s, yet most concerned parents are largely under-informed about this condition.
Thus, for the past years, experts and specialists in the field of pediatrics and neurology have done some extensive research in order to understand the factors that bring about the disorder, the symptoms for its diagnosis and the possible treatments for patients.
The Autistic Research Institute (2001) declares that there is an epidemic world wide, as incidenced by autism and the other to end up in dramatically increased becoming evident among children ages three and below. Two reasons were pointed out for this phenomenon: first is the fact that parents and doctors are now more aware of this debilitating condition, as compared before when it was simply deduced as ‘dumbness’, infantile dementia or classified as a sign of other syndromes.
The other reason is that there really is an actual increase in the numbers of children affected by autism every year. Autism as defined by Turkington (2001), as a “severe disorder of brain function marked by problems with social contact, intelligence and language, together with ritualistic or compulsive behavior and bizarre responses to the environment.”
The symptoms for autism are varied depending on the severity of the case. Turkington (2001) and Gleberzon (2001) mentioned several signs like, children afflicted with autism are often withdrawn as if absorbed in their own world, and they avoid eye contact, refuse to interact socially, and would not act out adult roles during play. Infants are non-responsive to or may even shun human contact. Language, if it ever develops, is very limited and often times comprehended only by the people close to the person. Actions like flapping of the hands and rhythmic rocking of the body is observed.
The suffer restricted patterns and get upset if disturbed. They may act detached from an object or become so preoccupied and obsessed with it that they follow it with their eyes all the time. Some exhibit moderate retardation while there are instances of manic depression and self-destructive behaviors. Epilepsy has been reported in 20% of the cases.
The offered causes of autism involve both the genes inherited by the child and the environment where he/she lives. For those with previous occurrences of autism in the family, risk of acquiring the abnormality is higher, especially among siblings and/or twins.
External factors cited by both Turkington (2001) and Gleberzon (2001) include the state of health of the mother during pregnancy and her exposure to certain chemicals. Some studies point to vaccines, antibiotics and diet as a triggering factor for autism. Some other enumerated causes are fibrous aclerosis, fragile X syndrome, Phenylketonuria (PKU) and Tuberous sclerosis.
Diagnosis of autism is basically done through observation of the child suspected to be suffering from the disorder. Unlike other infant abnormalities, there is no test available for this disorder. The treatments offered by Turkington (2001) and Gleberzon (2001) range from offering behavioral and educational therapy to administering medications and special diets.
In whyt se was wasy, that was diagnosed with autism. The different treatments administered and their effects to the subject are stated. The case provides a picture of how the disorder afflicts children, the people surrounding them, and the options to take in dealing with the condition.
The Causes of Autism
The primary factor attributed to the occurrence of autism is genetics. Researches have found a strong connection between these two variables (Turkington, 2001). For the general population, the over-all risk of a fetus to acquire autism is 0.16%, but for those who have siblings with autism, the risk is raised to 2% to 8% while 60% chance for an identical twin to develop the same condition as his/her sibling. Autistic-like behaviors are also observed among those having a first-degree relative suffering from the disease (Gleberzon, 2001).
Gleberzon, B.J., A.R. Gleberzon. (2001). On Autism: Its prevalence, Diagnosis, Causes and Treatment. Tipocs in Clinical Chiropractic,8(4), 42-54.
Rapin, I. (2001). An 8-Year-Old Boy With Autism. Jama:285:1749-1757.
Turkington, C.A. (2005). “Autism”. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. New York: Thomson Gale.