AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS Essay on Chapter 11 Diane Sheffield Autism is a condition that has a more than sixty year

history as a disability label and was first recognized as a disability in 1990 by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA provided the definition of Autism: A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interactions, generally evident before age three that adversely affects educational performance. Characteristics of Autism include irregularities and impairments in communication, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to change, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. Although only recently acknowledged in federal law, autism began to appear in the research literature in the first half of the 2oth century. Autism spectrum disorder is a broad term that encompasses autism as well as other conditions (such as Asperger Syndrome) with a range of characteristics in communication and language, intelligence and social interaction skills. Asperger syndrome is a condition that shares certain unusual social interactions and

behaviors with autism but typically shows no language delay. Some researchers argue this is a distinct disorder, while others contend it is a higher functioning version of autism spectrum disorder. It is import not to make generalizations regarding people with autism, since all do not exhibit the same characteristics to the same degree. Currently, it is believed that autism is a behavioral syndrome with multiple biological causes. However, this was not always the case. At one point, many professionals believed that autism was the result of inadequate parenting, especially on the part of the mother. This phenomenon, known as “Refrigerator Mothers”, was based on the belief that autistic behaviors were the results of emotional frigidity on the part of the mother. This lack of affection and failure to bond properly, it was believed, resulted in the child’s withdrawl. As a result, many mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders suffered from a great deal of blame and guilt over their child’s disability. Children with autism exhibit a number of rather unusual behaviors and characteristics some of which are evident very early in life. Infants are often unresponsive to physical contact or affection from their parents and later have extreme difficulty

relating to other people. Children and youth with autism routinely exhibit an impaired or delayed facility with language. Individuals with autism often engage in self-stimulation, such as flicking their hands in front of their faces repeatedly, manipulating objects in a repetitive fashion, and engaging in selfinjurious behavior. An intense resistance to change and ritualistic behaviors are common characteristics of individuals with autism. Most children with autism exhibit lowered intellectual functioning with about 75 percent having measured IQs below 70. The learning characteristics of children with autism often differ from those of their normally developing peers and present a number of challenges from an educational standpoint. For example, rigidity and social deficits may affect school performance. Generalizations about people with autism are difficult to make and the learning characteristics must be individually assessed and considered in educational programming. Restricted and problematic behavior may limit the inclusion options for some individuals with autism. There are no medications that can cure ASDs or treat the core symptoms. However there are medications that can help some people

with ASDs function better. Research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development. The IDEA says that children under 3 years (36mos) who are at risk of having developmental delays may be eligible for services. These services are provided through an early intervention system in each state. Through this system a parent can ask for an evaluation. There are many different types of treatment available such as music therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, sensory integration, speech & Language therapy. these treatments and more are broken down into categories of: behavior and communication, medical and education. In the snapshot and case study about Jake, his parents were pro-active by seeking and reading information about ASD to become knowledgeable in all possible areas. They became primary partners and thru eventually active partners with the multidisciplinary team for their child. Having a positive attitude and including Jake in a typical preschool with trained therapists all are key pieces that came together for a great prognosis. the parents know what need to continue to be done for Jake to get

to the level they feel he can be and they are committed to continue with his therapy, etc. until he can do for himself.