Autism: Identification and Characteristics

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development” (Unknown, 2013). However, there are multiple definitions of Autism spectrum disorder and autism. The two most accepted definitions are those outlined in IDEA and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, The IDEA definition of ASD and Autism has these disorders characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and academic performance, that can be observed prior to the child turning three years of age.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, these disorders are grouped under Pervasive Developmental Disorder. These disorders include, but are not limited to, autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Asperger syndrome (APA, 2000). Characteristics of Autism or ASD include difficulties in language development, ranging from no verbal communication to complex communication, delayed language development, and echolalia.
Echolalia is the uncontrollable and immediate repetition of words spoken by another person or sounds in the surrounding environment. It also includes difficulties in Social Development. These difficulties include delays in social interactions and social skills such as, impaired use of nonverbal behavior, lack of peer relationships, failure to spontaneously share enjoyment, interests, and achievements, as well as a Lack of reciprocity. Autism and ASDs are also characterized by repetitive behavior such as obsessions, tics, and perseverations.

Those diagnosed with Autism or ASD are also said to display problem behavior such as self-injurious behavior or aggression, a need for environmental predictability, symptoms of sensory and movement disorders, as well as, symptoms of Savant Syndrome. Savant Syndrome is a rare condition in which persons with various developmental disorders, including autistic disorder, have astonishing islands of ability, brilliance or talent in areas such as the fine arts. Many savants are also very good with remembering facts such as phone numbers or birthdays, after only seeing them a few imes. Causes and Prevalence The causes of autism range from different aspects. Some people’s perspective about it comes from history which is where the phrase “refrigerator mothers” comes from. Refrigerator mothers were women who were emotionally frigid to towards their children, showing their children little to no affection whatsoever. However, in the 1970s, researchers had established that autism is caused by brain or biochemical dysfunction that occurs before, during, or after birth.
Today, parents are not seen as the cause of their child’s autism, but as partners with educators when helping solve their child’s problems. The biomedical causes show that a child that has a sibling is 10 times more likely to develop autism than a child that does not have any siblings. There also seems to be a connection between environmental factors and genes. Parents also report that they see regression in their child directly following an immunization. But with this being said, parents also see a regression in their unvaccinated children.
If a pair of identical twins share the same gene, and one has autism, then 9 out of 10 times, the other twin has autism as well. Researchers believe that the biggest causes of autism are vaccinations, environmental exposures, pesticide exposure, parental age, pharmaceuticals, freeway proximity, and limited prenatal vitamin intake. The prevalence of autism suggests a range from 10 to 60 per 10,000 children. Principles of Effective Instruction and Assessment of Progress There are different kinds of effective instructions in order to help out the child that is diagnosed with Autism.
Some of the strategies include keyword, pegword, and letter. Keyword strategies “teach students to link a keyword to a new word or concept to help them remember the new material” (Turnbull, Turnbull, Wehmeyer, ; Shogren, 2013). This allows the Autistic children understand and learn the material a lot easier. Pegword strategy “helps students remember numbered or ordered information by linking words and numbers that rhyme” (Turnbull, Turnbull, Wehmeyer, ; Shogren, 2013). This strategy is great for students to visual the objects being represented.
The last strategy is the letter strategy “employs acronyms or a string of letters to help students remember a list of words or concepts. Recalling the acronym helps them recall the list or sequence. ” (Turnbull, Turnbull, Wehmeyer, ; Shogren, 2013). “The Autism Screening Instrument for Educational Planning (ASIEP-2) has five components or subtests that enable educators to evaluate a student’s capacity across communication, social interactions, behavior, academic content, and other domains. (Turnbull, Turnbull, Wehmeyer, ; Shogren, 2013).
The behavior checklist is used as a screening tool to identify the need for further assessment to determine whether the student has autism. (Turnbull, Turnbull, Wehmeyer, ; Shogren, 2013). These assessments can be used at home and during school hours. These methods are very effective for an Autism child. The technology and methods continue to grow and change for this disability. This particular disability has become more prominent within the United States each and every year. Researchers are becoming more and more familiar with Autism allowing those that have it able to have more help.
The progress of this disability has rapidly increased as well as the technology for Autism. Family Issues Autism does not only affect the child, but autism also affects the parents of the child as well. Parents or guardians of children with ASD must place their child’s needs as their primary focus. When parents with autistic children put their full attention in being a caregiver to these children sometimes this adds stress on their marriage, other children, finances, and personal relationships and responsibilities.
Also when having a child with ASD with siblings there may be some lack of attention for the other children in the family. In saying this, it is the parent’s job to best respond to the need of the family as a whole in able to show an equal amount of love to each child. Transition into Adulthood Children with autism are just like children without autism. They grow up wanting to make something of their lives, wanting to attend college, to get married, have a family, ect. Having autism makes dreams and goals harder, but not impossible.
Young adults on the autistic spectrum may qualify academically for college, but may not be able to handle other aspects of college life. Also when it comes to employment also depending on the severity of his or her symptoms many organizations hire extra help for adults with autism and other disabilities for pay in order to help them grow as a person and help to work everyday tasks. Just little things like going to college with the help of an assistant or having a small job helps to better them and help to make their transition into adulthood smoother and simpler.
References
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR. Washington, DC. American Psychiatric Association. Pelt, J. (2008, September/October). Autism Into Adulthood-Making the Transition. Retrieved from Social Work Today: http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/090208p12.shtml Turnbull, A., Turnbull, R., Wehmeyer, M. L., ; Shogren, K. A. (2013). Exceptional Lives Special Education in Today’s Schools. Boston. Unknown. (2013). Family Issues. Retrieved from Autism Society: Improving the Lives of All Affected by Autism: http://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/family-issues/ Unknown. (2013). What is Autism? Retrieved from Autism Speaks: http://www.autismspeaks.org

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