Autism Disorder Essay

1873 words - 7 pages

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder of the brain that severely impacts socialization, communication, and may even cause obsessive or repetitive behaviors. Autism delays the brain's normal development, and is also correlated with a milder form of the syndrome known as a pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-N OS). Since it was first identified in 1943, there has been increasing rate in new diagnoses each year. Muhle, Trenracoste, and Rapin (2004) found that the rate of diagnosis for Autism has risen 556% between the years of 1991 and 1997. Many feel that this increase is due to a shifting of diagnostic criteria, or newer defining characteristics of the syndrome. The expansion of the diagnostic criteria also indirectly relates to the increase of services provided for Autistic children, therefore increasing the shift. Because of this increase of diagnoses, more awareness has been brought to pediatricians, further increasing the rate in which Autism is diagnosed ("Autism," 2010). Glasson et al. (2004) found that the frequency in which the disorder is diagnosed has risen to almost 60 per 10000 people. Another factor in the increase of the diagnosis of Autism is that children are being diagnosed at a much earlier age. Parents are identifying problematic behaviors earlier in a child's life, sometimes as early as 8 months of age (Bristol-Power & Spinella 1999).
Studies have shown that Autism is more prevalent in boy than in girls, with a male to female ratio of 3:1 (Muhle et al., 2004). It is unclear why exactly autism tends to develop in males rather than females, but the fact that males are more statistically prone to develop Autism, suggests that the genes associated with the sex X chromosome may be somewhat responsible for this ratio (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2005). Because men lack the extra or “back-up” X chromosome that women have, they are more likely to develop symptoms of Autism, while women have the extra X chromosome to function with if there are abnormalities on their first. Along with the high prevalence of Autism in boys, there also seems to be a high ratio of twins that also develop the disorder. Muhle et al., (2004) found through studies, that nearly 60% of monozygotic twins, or identical twins, showed similarities in that both twins shared classic Autistic traits. On the other hand, in dizygotic twins, or fraternal twins, they found 0% similarities in sharing classic Autistic traits. Findings like these suggest that an underlying cause of Autism may be found in genes.
Autism was first brought to the world’s attention by a child psychiatrist named Leo Kanner. He published his first article, bringing the world up to date on a new disorder called Autism in 1943. His article was called “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact”, and talked about his case studies. Kanner said that he had seen instances of these types of children as early as 1938. In his article he...

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