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Diagnosis and Treatment

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Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder BEH225 June 14, 2013



Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder “Autistic disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by a lack of social instincts and strange motor behavior” (Morris & Maisto, 2010, p. 417). Autism is a very profound, serious disorder that affects children. It generally becomes evident that a child may have Autism within the first few years of life. It is a mental condition that causes those affected great difficulty in social interaction and communication. According to “What Is Autism?”(2013), “Autism Spectrum Disorder includes an array of disorders; including autism, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome” (para. 1). Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD, can be associated with different characteristics than Autism; however, most are similar. According to “What Is Autism?” (2013), “Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behavior” (para. 1). Autism Spectrum Disorders are a life-long condition; however, through interventions and therapies those with this disorder can reduce symptoms, increase skills and abilities, and lead a fairly normal, and successful life. Autism Spectrum Disorder seems to begin during the early years of brain development. The most significant and obvious signs generally appear between two and three years of age. According to “What Is Autism?” (2013), “Autism Spectrum Disorders can be characterized by intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Many children with ASD excel greatly in visual skills, music, math, and art” (para. 2). There are four categories that autism spectrum disorders affect.



The first category is social challenges. Social interaction and communication are extremely difficult for someone who has autism spectrum disorder. It is very common for those with this disorder to have a very difficult time regulating and expressing their emotions and feelings. This leads to “immature” behavior such as crying and outbursts to disruptive and physically aggressive behavior. Those diagnosed with ASD seem to easily “lose control”. The frustrations they feel can be overwhelming for them, even resulting in some people displaying self-injury behaviors. The second category is communication difficulties. Most children on the autism spectrum have some degree of communication difficulty. The difficulties range from mild to severe. Most normally developing children have a well-developed language and have passed many milestones by the age of three. However, children with autism are delayed in their language development and some begin to babble and coo at a young age and then lose this communication. One characteristic of communication in autistic children is the gaining of communication and regressing or losing it all. Many children with autism are completely non-verbal; this is typically the more severe cases. For these children, the use of sign language, pictures, and electronic word processors are used, even into adulthood. Many children develop language; however, their speech is not fluent or is unusual. Another challenge among those with autism is the inability to understand, interpret, or express communication, or understand body language. Those with autism have a very difficult time expressing their needs and wants which ultimately leads to frustration and inappropriate behavior. The third category is repetitive behaviors. One significant symptom of autism is unusual or indifferent repetitive behaviors. According to “What are the symptoms of Autism?” (2013), “Common repetitive behaviors include hand-flapping, rocking, jumping and twirling, arranging

AUTISM AND AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER and rearranging objects, and repeating sounds, words, or phrases” (Repetitive Behaviors). Many with autism also require consistency, which goes along with the repetitive behaviors. They are accustomed to the normal way and can become extremely upset when it is disrupted. Repetitive behaviors can also be displayed in intense obsessions. Many develop extreme interest or a depth


of knowledge in a certain area or subject. This makes them extremely smart, generally, in one or two areas. The final category affected by autism spectrum disorder is the associated medical or mental conditions. The primary medical conditions affected by those with autism are genetic disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizure disorders, sleep dysfunction, sensory processing problems, and pica. Many children with autism complain of chronic diarrhea or constipation, different types of seizures, significant sleep problems, mild or severe difficulties in processing information, and many times will desire to eat items that are not considered edible. There are many aspects of autism that must be addressed individually through therapies and behavior management for effective treatment. Many of the symptoms and behaviors can combine, vary in severity, and change over time, which is why treatment must be individualized to meet the need at the current time. According to “Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center: Autism – Treatment Overview” (2013), “Children with autism respond best to highly structured and specialized treatment” (para. 2). One type of treatment is the use of behavior therapies. Behavior therapy includes the use of positive reinforcement, social skills, and provides ways to improve behavior and communication. According to “Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center: Autism – Treatment Overview” (2013), “Three types of these therapies are, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA),



Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), and sensory integration” (para. 4). There are also different therapies to meet specific needs. These therapies are speech, occupation, and physical therapy. These therapies should be used in combination with a complete treatment plan. These therapies assist these children with language and speech skills, motor and coordination skills, as well as ways to better manage sensory information. Treatment may also include the use of medications. Most of these medications are used to treat behaviors and symptoms associated with the disorder. There is no “typical” person with autism. Autism presents itself with different forms of behavior. These behaviors range from mild to severe. Autism is a disorder of the brain that makes it difficult for those affected to communicate and socialize with others. Autism is when different areas of the brain do not work together. Because of this failure in the brain, most people with autism will have challenges communicating and relating to others. However, with an early diagnosis and treatment plans, more and more children have been given the opportunity to reach their full potential.



References Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center: Autism – Treatment Overview. (2013). Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/autism-treatment-overview Morris, C. G., & Maisto, A. A. (2010). Understanding Pscyhology (9th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. What are the Symptoms of Autism. (2013). Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from http://www.autism speaks.org/what-autism/symptoms What Is Autism?. (2013). Retrieved on July 14, 2013, from http://www.autismspeaks.org-whatautism

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