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Autism is a brain disorder that presents immediately after birth. Children with autism experience communication as well as social problems. Researchers have not succeeded in establishing accurately the causes of this disorder though factors such as genetic problems, exposure to chemicals and viral attacks have been highly linked with it.
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Children with this disorder present with behaviors such as: eating compulsion, lack of response from the child when he/ she is talked to, frequent cries on being held or cajoled, engaging in one repetitive motion for a long time, making a certain voice or phrase repeatedly, conversation problems, engaging in unusual play patterns and extreme sensitivity to sound as well as touch. Children with the disorder may however not show all of these signs. Only those children experiencing an extreme degree of the disorder show all or majority of the signs. Children with a mild degree of the disorder on the other hand present with only a few of the symptoms. Research indicates that boys are four times more vulnerable to the condition than girls.
Other funny and unusual behaviors shown by victims of the disorder are: rocking back and fourth aimlessly for several hours, spending several hours staring at an object, failure to engage in play like other normal children and speaking in a monotone for those who succeed in uttering some words. One should however realize that there is a big difference between autism and low intelligence. As a matter of fact, children with autism can be as bright as their counterparts leading a normal life. Measuring intelligence in such children may however be quite a challenge since they are not able to communicate. Measuring intelligence entails subjecting the candidate to an aptitude test which requires speech. To succeed in measuring intelligence in such children therefore requires detecting their ability to understand certain concepts, an endeavor which may not be that simple.
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The director of the Indiana resource centre for autism, Dr. Cathy Pratt argues that, there are as many characteristics as there are autism patients. Such patients have different likes and do not respond to the same therapy according to this researcher. There is however one similarity between such patients which is the desire for a very structured environment as well as the fear for change. Any slight change in the order of things in their environment makes such patients agitated. To make such children therefore respond well to changes in their environment, alerting them about the change before it’s registered is quite necessary. This clearly shows that such children have the ability to learn.
There is no known cure for this condition though education and behavioral intervention can greatly alleviate the suffering for its patients. Such education involves teaching victims how to play as well as how to behave in a social setting. Such children however are unable to learn through observing others and therefore the need to be shown how to do what is expected of them. The education program should incorporate a clearly defined set of rules which they enjoy following. Its important to teach children with the disorder how to behave in various settings such as cafeterias, classrooms, recess etc. carrying out good and well coordinated education for such children may solve their problem before they become adults. Good education may however fail to solve the problem and therefore the presence of victims who need to be assisted with self care as well as living and job skills in their adulthood.
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Just like normal people, victims of autism may posses a very strong and specific talent. Its therefore not surprising to see an autistic child capable of solving complex mathematical problems and handling other tasks requiring a good brain very accurately despite being unable to talk well. This is because, the part of the brain that controls speech may be retarded but the part that controls other tasks may be supercharged. Victims of autism exhibit a very high ability to use the part of their brain functioning well to the extent of compensating for the one which is retarded. Given the great strides researchers have made on brain research both using psychology as well as through highly sophisticated medical technology, one cannot help but appreciate the fact that the mystery behind autism will be unraveled very soon.
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