A little girl named Sally, quietly sits alone in a corner, rocking back and forth, humming to herself. Her classmates roam about in a chaotic manner, casually conversing, and inadvertently ignoring the little girl. Sally’s parents begin to wonder; is it just a phase or something more. Her parents soon learn that it is something more.
With little more to go on than that of what the parents have observed, Sally’s pediatrician has decided that she should be tested for autism. There is no blood to be drawn, no pulse to be taken, for there are no medical tests that can diagnose an autistic child.(2, pg 16) Through careful observation a team of neurologists, psychologists, developmental pediatricians, speech and language pathologists, and a few other specialists can knowledgeably diagnose Sally. After observing Sally in various social atmospheres and acquiring a developmental history from her parents, this team of trained professionals has diagnosed Sally as autistic.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that appears to be the result of a neurological disorder that affects the brain. Autism impacts normal developmental areas including, but not limited to, impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual or limited activity. “People with autism often have abnormal responses to sounds, touch, or other sensory stimulation. Many show reduced sensitivity to pain. They also may be extraordinarily sensitive to other sensations. These unusual sensitivities may contribute to behavioral symptoms such as resistance to being cuddled.”(4, pg. 32) Most children are identified as autistic between the ages of birth and three years. Sally being of school age is relatively older than most children that are initially diagnosed with autism. Autism is not significantly prevalent among any particular racial, ethnic or social groupings. Though it is four times more likely to appear in boys. Could Sally’s parents have prevented her diagnosis?
“There is no known cause of autism. Current research links autism to biological or neurological differences in the brain – although at this time no gene has been directly linked to autism.”(2, pg 105) Several theories, which exist, link the disorder to environmental and genetic factors. One such research project, performed by Vijendra K. Singh, Ph.D., is based on the concept of “Neuro-immunopathogenesis in Autism.” (1, pg. 26) Doctor Vijendra K. Singh identified his research and resolution as follows:
“Based on our ongoing research of a reciprocal relationship between nervous system and immune system, we studied autism as a neuroimmune dysfunction syndrome in which auto-immunity to brain was strongly implicated. We found that autoantibodies to M[yelin] B[asic] P[rotein] were selectively present in up to 80 percent of the autistic children, but they were only rarely detected in the controls. Regarding virus serology, autistic children had a significantly...