The Evolution of Autism

Autism is a neurobiological disorder that results in difficulty communicating with anyone and social impairments. The first discovery of autism was by Leo Kanner in 1943 ( Lyons, V., and M. Fitzgerald).

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Over time the definition of autism has changed with new discovers. Up unit the 1970s autism was thought to be no more than a symptom of schizophrenia (Martin). Disorders such as epilepsy and down syndrome can occur. Everyone is different when it comes to what disabilities they have and what ones they do not have. 1910 was the very first time that any mention of autism had every appeared in medical literature (Martin). Autism did not become a disability legally until 1991. There is no medical testing that can be done to diagnose autism. Symptoms include avoiding eye contact, being very sensitive, and repetition. Developmental screening and comprehensive diagnostics can be used to diagnose, but some doctors like to use mu- wave suppressions.

Developmental screenings sees if the child knows skills that are appropriate for their age. This type of screening should be conducted at nine months, eighteen months, and between twenty four and thirty months old. Comprehensive diagnostic exam checks the comprehension of the child, the child’s behavior and development. During this exam there is vision and hearing screening, genetic and neurological testing, etc (“Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)”). A diagnosis can occur at eighteen months or younger. The most reliable diagnosis is made around the age of two. Other testing will be performed if the child is related to someone who has autism because they have a higher risk of having autism. During the 1990s when children were diagnosed they would wait months to be seen by a doctor who knew little to nothing about autism (Baker, JP). Autism can not be cured, so treatment will not make it go away, it will only make the it better. The sooner treatment is started the better of the child will be. There is three different categories of treatment, I being well-established, II being probably efficacious, and III being experimental. Therapy should not begin with emerging treatment options, and unestablished options should not be used at all (Suchowierska, Monika). The Autism Society of America gives information on new treatment options. Cure Autism Now funds treatment research projects (Project Autism).

Treatment options include but are not limited to behavior therapy, sensory integration, schedules, and music therapy (Mitrani, Judith/Suchowierska, Monika, and Gary Novak). Applied behavior analytic also known as ABA which was discovered by O. Ivar Lovaas (Smith, T) and vest can also be used. The vests known as squeeze vest allow one to feel like they are cozy and secure (Mitrani, Judith). Therapy that works for one may not always work for someone else. Media attention has helped change the public view on autism over time. Many movies have been created with the main character having or showing symptoms of autism. Movies that portray autistic characters include The Boy who Could Fly, Rainman, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, Adam, My Name is Khan, and Temple Grandin (Project Autism). The most know is Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin is known for being a human livestock handling industry top scientist (Project Autism). Since the discovery of autism there has been negativity. To many with autism stereotypes challenge them often. While media has helped get rid of many stereotypes, some still exist. Media attention also creates new stereotypes. Many of the stereotypes are created usually because of the lack of communication, different expressions of their thoughts and feelings, and actions (Martin, Danielle N). Stereotypes make many feel like they are alone in the world. Studies show parents that have at least one if not more children with autism end up getting divorced (Martin, Danielle N).

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