Hello All, I just finished writing a paper about autism and thought I would share an overview of psychology condensed from my 10 pages!
Autism is a disorder that affects the development of children through genetic and prenatal exposure to toxins, mainly mercury and pesticides. The impairment of the child reaches into aspects of their lives such as socialization, higher order planning, and regulatory behavior. They often have difficulty in relating to others socially as well as emotionally, and have problems understanding intentionality. As well as these main impairments, autistic children will display bizarre behavior, from inspecting small objects and being fixated on them, to self-injurous behaviors, where they may display head banging, or biting and scratching themselves. The diagnosis is usually early in childhood, with signs of disconnection from emotions shown as an infant, but consistent isolated behavior throughout the rest of their lives. There are quite a few assessment tools used to diagnose and evaluate treatment of autism, ranging from standardized tests, to interviews with family, nonverbal tests for those with difficulty speaking, and observation over several settings, all in order to develop a treatment plan and help the families learn what to do to support the child. Treatments include biomedical methods involving diet change and supplementation with vitamins, digestive enzymes, thyroid medication, and melatonin, to increase nutrient intake, stop mental retardation, and regulate sleep in order to allow the child's body and mind to keep up with behavior training. Non-medical treatments include many types of training and teaching aids to activate social behavior and allow the child to socialize with their peers. The disorder is often accompanied by other disorders, such as mental retardation, epilepsy, ADHD, learning disorders, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders. All of these comorbid disorders lead to isolation and a poor life experience for the child, so early and effective treatment and training of the child are necessary to provide the child with a way to fit in and avoid depression and other disorders harmful to the child.
Autism is gaining awareness, but also gaining prevalence, with the rate of autism a little over 1 in 500. For many states there are directories of professionals who specialize in the treatment of autism, but there are also large organizations with websites that provide resources and tools for families to cope with and treat autism.
I hope you all found this interesting and informative. If you have any questions, please let me know and I can pass your questions to a professional or get some more info for you!