Autism-world awareness day: Autism in short terms

Autism discovery

For the first time in the literature (back in 1943.), Leo Kanner referred to autism as a disorder of social skills.

We conclude that these children come into the world with innate inability to achieve common, biologically predetermined quality relationships with people. Some other children came into the world with innate mental or intellectual disabilities (Zimmerman, 2008).

Later in his work Kanner suggests the possibility that a particular biochemical and biomedical neurobiological research may reveal the secret origin of this disorder.

Yet today, it seems, we are not much closer to solving many significant uncertainties about autism.

Acording to Kanner autism is characterized by: aloofness, withdrawal, lack of social reciprocity, lack of eye contact, lack of effective communication. There are also persistent stereotypical actions, such as swinging and shaking hands. He mentions specific behaviors such as preoccupation with irrelevant facts and disapproval in case of change of environmental conditions and violation of adopted routine.

Austrian immigrant Bruno Bettelheim, has played a significant role in the formation of many years, valid, scientific views on the causes of autism, and consequently its treatment. He claimed that the cause for the occurrence of autism is an emotional indifference of the child’s mother.

Speech development specifics in autism

Many individuals with autism never develop functional speech. Even in cases of high functional autism speech is often impaired in the field of social use.

Research shows that in people with autism verbal and nonverbal communication is damaged. Delay, irregularities,  poverty and other forms of impairment are the main communication characteristics of this population. These are expressed through: inability to establish a socially proactive forms of communication (generally present deficit), poor vocabulary, reduced syntax. Also blemish of grammar use, irregular rhythm and tempo, accent and voice. Lack of  content understanding, „adhesion to the topic“ echolalia, stereotypes, monologue speech, the repetition of received verbal messages and many other irregularities.

In order to improve communication quality of this population, different approaches are applied, such as, sign language, graphics – picture material, technical equipment for the speech production and contemporary training methods, which usually represent a combination of these approaches.

Neuropathology and pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders

All autistic spectrum disorders are complex neurodevelopment disorders with a strong genetic basis.

Most evidence point to the fact that many of the brain regions are involved in the pathogenesis of autism. It should be pointed out that the cerebellum area of ​​the brain in all people with autism is structurally as well as functionally changed.

Progress in understanding autism origin has been made ​​when an experimental research found that a gene called ENGRAILED 2, responsible for the development of the cerebellum might also carry the responsibility for the occurrence of autism (Zimmerman, 2008).

Although, clinically, disorders themselves, are explained in detail, the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders is still a mystery. However pathological abnormalities in brain function and structure may provide clues to shed light on the etiology of these disorders. The autopsy and findings from different types of central nervous system imaging of the people with autism spectrum disorders have shown that there are numerous, neuropathology that involves multiple cortical and sub cortical regions.

Some of the perceived specificity are unusual and excessive brain growth. Structural irregularities at the cellular and intercellular levels. Reduced corpus callosum. Functional cortical irregularity in the communication structure when performing certain cognitive tasks. Dysfunction of serotonin, a thinner cortex, ectopic gray matter, disorganized lamina. Insufficient clear differentiation of gray and white matter. Altered cell structure of the hippocampus and amygdale. Recent research mentions the uncontrolled proliferation of tissue in this area during postnatal development (Zimmerman, 2008).

Savant skills

What has always been interesting to the general population is the „fact“ that people with autism have specific skills in different fields. Half – truths that the media, presented as scientific certainty have created this partial fallacy. The facts show that about 10 percent of people with autism have some form of savant skills. Limited talent, such as memorizing skills, calculating dates, painting or a musical skill. This percentage is much lower in all other persons with any other developmental disorder. Including those with mental retardation is around 1 percentage.

Dilemma

Despite ample evidence obtained by histopathological findings and brain imaging all previously mentioned forms, of the structural and functional brain disorders, may be the cause but also the consequence of autistic spectrum disorders. The truth cannot yet be determined with a 100 percent certainty. That is why it remains one of the directions of further research in this area.

So, to summarize, contemporary experts in the field of autism treat it as autistic spectrum variations that among individuals, varying. From those with specially developed verbal skills. High – functioning persons of superior intelligence. To those who are not able to develop verbal communication and of a low intellectual ability.

Weaknesses that autism entails may or may not be practically socially restrictive. It depends on where one is on the autistic spectrum, and depending on the specific environmental factors affecting the individual.

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