The Effects Of Early Intervention In Autistic Children

2559 words - 10 pages

IntroductionAutism or PPD (pervasive developmental disorder) is defined by the Columbia encyclopedia as a rare neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the inability to relate to and perceive the environment in a realistic manner. The onset of the disorder is in infancy or early childhood, generally before the age of thirty months, and males are affected four times as often as females. Early intervention in cases of children with autism is crucial to obtain better results further along the line for a normal or almost normal development of speech and social interaction.In 1943, a man by the name of Leo Kanner formally identified autism; he labeled the disorder "autistic disturbance of affective contact" ("Autism Web" n.d.). Autism was first described in America, officially, in 1980 with the publication of DSMIII (Tanguay, Robertson, Derrick, 1980). There was much confusion, both before and after Kanner's description, regarding the continuity of autism with schizophrenia and other then-recognized forms of psychosis (Lippcott/Williams & Wilkins, 1999). Kanner noticed that autistic infants had a reverse pattern typically observed in normal infants. Infants are normally interested in social, as opposed to nonsocial environments.The cause for autism remains unclear, although most neurological studies seem to indicate a dysfunction in the brain as a possible reason. Autism has been found in children with brain abnormalities and can also be present in genetic syndromes such as fragile X syndrome and phenylketonuria. Some research has shown that there may be an autism gene, or two genes working together. These genes are thought to be on the seventh and thirteenth chromosome. The disorder is, in some instances, may be hereditary as shown by twin studies that cite there is a "substantially higher rate in identical twins--so much so that heritablity is over 90%", says Joseph Piven (cited in "Applied Genetics News", 1999). In a Harvard Mental Health letter (1997) statistics found that the rate of autism and mild retardation in brothers, sisters and fraternal twins of autistics is 50-100 times higher than average and in identical twins the rate is 65% to 90%. In 1980 it was found that among 11 families with a father diagnosed with autism more than half of their children were autistic. The apparently normal parents of autistic children had undiagnosed mild symptoms of autism when tested.Experts say early intervention is critical. Some treatments include special diets and vitamin supplements, and focus on drawing a child with autism away from their agenda (rocking). Autistic children tend to stray away from conversation or tasks in an irregular manner unable to focus on what others may want. Some signs of the disorder include a decrease in language skills and interaction in activity and attention with others. People with autism don't understand social norms or rules like normal people. Autistics are unable to learn from observation. They need to be...

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