There are several reasons why I chose the topic of Autism. First, autism is intriguing
because it is very hard to understand. Medical science is at a loss to explain why and how it occurs.
Second, I have had occasion to develop a personal relationship with children who are afflicted with
At The Children’s Institute, where I volunteer, I sit and play with many kids, two of whom
are very hard to play with. Even though they are five and six years old, they avoid making eye
contact with others, and often refuse to play with the other kids. Also, once they start watching
something, like television, it is very hard to get them to look somewhere else. They are focused,
almost mesmerized by the television, especially if there are flashing lights or colors. One child
rocks back and forth, sometimes slowly and sometimes faster. An older child makes noises a lot,
hums and randomly laughs for no reason. My observations prompted me to do some research into
autism and I found that these were traits which others had also observed in patients afflicted with
Autism has mystified scientists and doctors for more than a century. So, what do we know
about it now? It is a complex developmental disability that usually appears during the first three
years of life, and it arises from a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain.
The brainstem of a person with autism is shorter than a normal brainstem, lacks a structure known
as the superior olive and has a smaller than normal structure known as the facial nucleus.
Scientists who have observed the brainstems of autistic patients have reported that it is though a
band of tissue is missing.
The symptoms of autism vary from one person to another. Some people can be affected
greatly by one symptom, while other may be affected more strongly by a different symptom.
This developmental disability impacts normal development of the brain in areas such as
social interaction and communication skills. Children with autism cannot interpret the emotional
states of others, they don’t recognize anger, sorrow or manipulative intent. Their language skills
are limited and they will often fail to initiate and sustain conversations.
It is common for an autistic person to avoid being touched because of a heightened sense of
touch. A light touch to most people may hurt an autistic person. On the other hand, some autistic
people are insensitive to pain and won’t notice injuries. Hearing can also be heightened so that a
noise that would not bother your or my ears, may hurt an autistic person’s ears. Autistic people’s
vision can also be affected. They have trouble recognizing people. They can also have their eyes
hurt by a bright light or a certain flickering.
People with autism lack...