The autism spectrum disorders are a family of disorders that affects an individual’s brain and ways of thinking and acting (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016). Autism is the most serious and common of the disorders. This usually affects those diagnosed with the disorder in ways like, language skills that develop later in life and speech that mimics that of what is spoken to him/her (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016).
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Public awareness of autism spectrum disorder is increasing as people become more aware of the mental disability. The over referral of children to ASD led many healthcare professionals to begin screening patients who were actually thought to have autism (Monteiro, 2015). In the study that was conducted, only 214 of the 348 were found to actually be diagnosed as autistic (Monteiro, 2105). In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics set new standards to diagnosing people as autistic (Monteiro, 2015). These changes include things such as surveillance of the child to determine any risk factors, screening at 9, 18, 24, and 30 months. At ages 24 and 30 months and additional screening was added to detect certain aspects of autism (Monteiro, 2015).
For many years autism was thought to be a totally psychological disorder (Autism Treatment Trust, 2013), but now, many healthcare professionals have found that autistic patients have many underlying issues that coincide with autism (Celia, 2016). According to the article, “autistic patients are some of the most difficult patients that a healthcare professional can care for (Celia, 2016). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), predicts that 1 in every 68 children are affected by autism and that 1 of every 48 children are male (Celia, 2016). In recent times, medical professionals have found many conditions that are concurrent with the autism disorder. Sleep disorders have been found to affect nearly 80% of people diagnosed with autism (Bauman, 2010; Malow et al, 2012). The cause for the sleep disorders affecting autistic patients is unknown, but many professionals believe that it could be due to the hormone melatonin and the lack of the production due to the disorder (Celia, 2016). Immunologic issues have also been found to affect those diagnosed as autistic. Many autistic patients have been recorded as having food and environmental allergies (Autism Treatment Trust, 2013), which leads many healthcare professionals to believe that autistic patients have an underlying immune system dysfunction (Celia, 2016). According to studies lead by the Autism Treatment Trust (2013), patients that are diagnosed as autistic more than often suffer from gastrointestinal disorders. This could be in part to allergies that the individual have to certain foods and others believe that it is due to the individual eating things that cause irritation and pain to the abdomen (Autism Treatment Trust, 2013). Lastly, autistic patients have been found to have neurological issues. In autistic patients, nearly 30% are reported to have seizures and 60% of patients are reported to have abnormal electroencephalograms (Bauman, 2010).
People who are diagnosed as being autistic usually do not show much interest in other people; however, when they do the interactions are often awkward. This is due to the ASD not allowing the person to understand society’s rules and expectations of “normal” social interaction (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016). In the examination of James, he experiences certain symptoms that suggest he suffers from autistic-spectrum disorder. Some of the symptoms of this disorder are the same in which Jason is experiencing. According to Siegel & Ficcaglia (2006), the central attribute of autism is for an individual to have a lack of responsiveness. This means that the individual experiences lack of interest in others, extreme aloofness, have an inability to share attention with others, and have low empathy (Comer, 2008). This means that the patient wouldn’t show attention to others and young children wouldn’t reach for their parents to pick them up. The child may even turn his back to others or even appear to not care about others they are around. James exhibits aloofness and shows signs of not caring to be around others, because he dislikes being read to.
Autism also causes problems with communication and language. According to Dawson & Castelloe (1992) suggests that more than half of the people diagnosed with autism suffer from language and communication problems. A common communication problem is echolalia. Echolalia is the repeating of words with the same inflection, with no understanding of what is being said (Comer, 2008). Another common speech problem is pronominal reversal, which is using the words “you” and “I” in place of each other. James speaks in what seems to others as unintelligent language, but has no control due to the disorder. Like, “Do you need to use the bathroom?” Among the common issues, patients may also find it difficult to name objects, use proper tone when talking, understanding speech, and using speech for conversation (Comer, 2008). James often screams loudly because he can’t express himself verbally.
When James becomes upset about his favorite tv show going off he begins to hit him. Autistic patients often suffer from motor movement issues. Self stimulatory acts include actions like jumping, twisting hair or hands, but when the patients turns to hurting themselves it is referred to as self-injurious behaviors (Comer, 2008). James hits himself when he becomes upset because he doesn’t find stimulation when his tv show is not on. When the tv show comes back on, James however calms down and stops the actions to resume watching his show. This is because he becomes stimulated by watching the show.
Patients diagnosed with autism exhibit certain symptoms. Autistic patients have a social impairment marked by behaviors like eye-to-eye gazing, and gestures to regulate social interactions. They also have language impairments similar to those of James, like lack or delay of spoken language. Another symptom that James shares in common with autistic patients is stereotyped patterns of behavior and interest. He has a pattern of watching the same tv show and becomes upset when it goes off. James is in the routine of watching his show. Children of the same age range as James would have further developed speech in which they could use to express themselves. They would also be interested in playing with other children, sharing with others, and getting attention from their parents as well.
There are many treatment options available to help autistic patients adapt better to their environment. Treatments include parent training, behavioral therapy, community integration, and communication training (Comer, 2008). Vitamins and psychotropic drugs combined with therapy have been shown to help (Osterling et al., 2001; Volkmar , 2001). Behavioral therapy consists of remodeling behaviors with rewarding desired behaviors and exhibiting acceptable behaviors for imitation by the patient (Lovass, 2003; Erba, 2000). Communication training consists of teaching effective ways of communication like sign language or simultaneous communication. Simultaneous communications is a combination of sign language and speech (Comer, 2008). Another language intervention that has been used in studies to assist those with language difficulties because of autism is Direct Instruction (DI) (Flores, 2016). Language for learning is a type of DI which has been to show improvement in both receptive and expressive language (Flores, 2016). Parent training consists of teaching parents how they can apply behavioral training techniques at home (Schreibman & Koegel, 2005; Erba, 2000). I recommend behavior therapy and communication training for James. This will teach him acceptable behavior and ways in which to communicate with his parents. The parents should also have communication training so that they also have the knowledge to communicate with James as well as parent training so they know how to do behavior training while at home.
Autism can be caused by many variables. A lack of theory of mind, awareness that people base behavior on their own beliefs and not on information they have no way of knowing, it thought to be a factor leading to autism (Hale & Tager-Flusberg, 2005; Frith 2000). Children, by age 3 to 5, can perceive the views of others and predict what people will do (Comer, 2008). Biological factors also influence the chances for autism development. It was discovered that genetic factors in families have a higher chance of developing autism (Piven et al., 1997). Brain development, the cerebellum, has also lead researchers to discover that autistic patients have underdeveloped cerebellums (DeLong, 2005; Pierce & Courchesne, 2002, 2001). With treatment and support from family children living with autism can lead very normal lives. They can also learn to cope and control their behaviors.
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