Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism has been on the rise in the past 20 years, and is getting dangerously close to reaching epidemic proportions (Zelan, 1). Statistically, Autism rates have been rising in the United States with Autism now effecting 1 in every 150 children ages 10 and younger (Zelan, 1). Autism can occur in any race and does not gender discriminate, though boys are four times more likely to have Autism than girls (Castrogiovanni). The causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Autism are the main aspects that most interest researchers today. If studies continue to have good results, the quality of life for Autistics could improve exponentially. Autism is a developmental disorder that has baffled researchers for years, but research breakthroughs in the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Autism allow for a better understanding of the condition.
There are many theories regarding Autism, however, the actual cause(s) remain unknown. Autism could have several possible triggers, but any information is still in the earliest stages of research. Genetics, familial connections, having an excess of testosterone, and vaccines have all been speculated as potential causes. Genetic testing has revealed interesting information, but no gene or genes have been linked to Autism directly. One researcher states, “Autism probably results from abnormalities in at least three to twenty genes and very likely has no single causal gene.” (Fredericks, 35) Researchers have also found that Autistics under 12 have an overall larger brain size in comparison to normal children. (Fredericks, 35) This information really expresses the need for more in-depth research regarding genetic links (Fredericks, 15). The idea that Autism could be a hereditary condition is not one heavily considered. It is possible, though, that a member of the child’s immediate family could carry an “autistic gene” and have very mild, autism-like behavior markers that be passed on as Autism to the child. There is no current test to determine if anyone in the family has the autistic “gene”, but studies are still underway (Fredericks, 33). An excess of testosterone in utero may be a link to or cause of Autism. The child would, in theory, be “too male”. Babies with too much testosterone during development may have a higher risk of developing Autism (Fredericks, 38). At one point, Autism was thought to be caused by the live vaccines given in childhood, such as MMR. The idea was that the multiple, live vaccines triggered Autism in children who may have a genetic “predisposition” for it. The case was closed several years ago due to a lack of usable information (Fredericks, 39).
Though there is no noted cause, Autism has several marking symptoms. An extreme lack of social skills is usually the biggest and most apparent marker of Autism. The lack of social skills can be as severe as no speech whatsoever, but can be as mild as awkwardness in social situation and failure to...