Autism Spectrum Disorder is a distinct brain damage disorder that produces a characteristic range of behavioral abnormalities. ASD is a severely incapacitating lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It occurs in approximately 1 out of every 88 births.
The causes seem related to genetic predisposition triggered by pollution affecting the mother (high contamination found in breast milk) or the child after birth through air / food / water / insecticides / pesticides / heavy metal exposure in drugs and daily use chemicals and household goods.
These children born apparently normal, but then begin to deteriorate by age of 1 to 2 years. The main features always presents before 36 months of age. These children may have some speech developmental and social interactive regression, usually around 18 months of age. The Diagnosis of childhood autism must meet the specific DSM IV criteria and will therefore present with poor eye contact, pervasive ignoring, language delay, and other features. Per definition, these children will have a severe impairment in speech, communication, or social interaction. Many of them will be completely non-verbal and “in their own world.”
Autism occurs by itself or in association with other disorders which affect the function of the brain such as viral infections, metabolic disturbances, and epilepsy. It is important to distinguish autism from retardation or mental disorders since diagnostic confusion may result in referral to inappropriate and ineffective treatment techniques. The severe form of the syndrome may include extreme self-injurious, repetitive, highly unusual and aggressive behavior. Special educational programs using behavioral methods have proven to be the most helpful treatment.
Official diagnoses within the autism spectrum are autistic disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett Syndrome. Characteristics of these types of autism include impaired social interaction and communication skills, and a limited range of activities and interests.
Behavior of an autistic person Autistic children display unusual behavior. A typical autistic child’s behavior is likely to include some of the following:
|Spinning||Repetitive behavior (perseverance)|
|No speech||Balancing, e.g. standing on a fence|
|Flapping hands||Behavior that is aggressive to others|
|Walking on tiptoes||Lack of interaction with other children|
|Lack of eye contact||Extreme dislike of touching certain textures|
|Self-injurious behavior||Desire to keep objects in a certain physical pattern|
|Lack of interest in toys||Desire to follow set patterns of behavior/Interaction|
|Dislike of being touched||Treating other people as if they were inanimate objects|
|Non-speech vocalizations||Delayed echolalia: repeating something heard at an earlier time|
|Preoccupation with hands||Confusion between the pronouns “I” and “You”|
|Lack of response to people||Echolalia: speech consisting of literally repeating something heard|
|Extreme dislike of certain foods||Either extremely passive behavior or extremely nervous, active behavior|
|Delayed development of speech||When picked up, offering no “help” (“feels like lifting a sack of potatoes”)|
|Extreme dislike of certain sounds||“Islets of competence”, areas where the child has normal or even advanced competence. Typical examples include drawing skill, musical skill, arithmetic, calendar arithmetic, memory skills, perfect pitch|