This blog is intended to clarify the case studies about autism, the significance of this syndrome for parents of autistic and special children around the world, in various places that the human imagination could go.

segunda-feira, 21 de novembro de 2011

Autism's mysteries remain as numbers grow

Share this on:
March 31, 2008|By Val Willingham CNN
Until they were 18 months old, the Gaston triplets seemed like normal, healthy babies.
It remains one of the greatest mysteries of medicine. Although autism will be diagnosed in more than 25,000 U.S. children this year, more than new pediatric cases of AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined, scientists and doctors still know very little about the neurological disorder.
Unlike childhood diabetes or pediatric leukemia, there is no blood test, no scan, no image that can detect autism. Diagnosis relies totally on behavioral observation and screening. And that's not easy.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, three distinctive behaviors characterize autism: lack of social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors or narrow, obsessive interests. But children with autism display these symptoms in many different ways, some as mild as avoiding eye contact, while others are totally immersed in a world of their own.


Dr. Gary Goldstein, president of Kennedy Krieger Institute, one of the leading U.S. facilities for autism research and treatment, says although doctors know more about autism than ever, plenty of questions remain unanswered. Over the past few years, it has become clear that genetics play a big role in the development of autism. But researchers believe something -- a trigger -- sets off autism in a child.
"It's a combination of being genetically vulnerable, and then having some kind of social or toxic exposure that tips you over," Goldstein says. If scientists find that trigger, they could find the missing piece of the autism puzzle.
It's that missing puzzle piece that frustrates families with autistic children. When the Gaston triplets of Ellicott City, Maryland, were born seven years ago, their parents, Lynn and Randy, were thrilled. For years, they had been trying to have children. After in vitro fertilization, Lynn gave birth to identical twins, Hunter and Nicholas, and a fraternal brother named Zachary. Though they were born prematurely, they grew to be healthy, happy babies. Then something changed.
At around 18 months, the boys began to display unusual behaviors. Zach became compulsive, lined up cereal boxes and toys; he wouldn't socialize and kept to himself. Hunter would roam the house at night and scream at the top of his lungs. Nick just stopped talking.


Autism is a lifelong disability affecting nearly 1 in 250 children
born in the world today. With the diagnosis of autism reaching
epidemic proportions, it is important that accurate information is made
available to anyone who will be working with, living with, or loving a
person with autism. And let's face it, with numbers as small as these,
it is becoming more likely than not that each and every one of us will
be touched by a person with autism in our lifetime.
It is with this in mind that I assembled my PowerPoint
Presentation. It is a comprehensive presentation that includes
statistics, symptoms, causes, and treatments regarding the subject of
autism, as well as providing a brief glimpse into the life of a child
with autism. The following is a synopsis of what you will find in this
§ Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically
appears during the first three years of life. It impacts the
normal development of the brain in the areas of social
interaction and communication skills. It is a spectrum disorder,
meaning that the symptoms and characteristics can present
themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to
(Autism Society of America)
§ Autism is widely recognized as a neurodevelopmental disorder that
affects the functioning of the brain. It is not a behavioral,
emotional or conduct disorder. It is not a mental illness.
There are no medical tests that can be used to diagnose autism.
(Shriver, 1999)
§ 1 in 1000 individuals are diagnosed with "classic" autism.
§ 1 in 500 individuals are diagnosed within the autism spectrum,
including Pervasive Developmental Disorders.
§ 1 in 200 individuals are diagnosed within the autism spectrum,
including Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Aspergers
(Autism Society of Wisconsin)
o Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified is
the diagnosis made for children who do not meet the
criteria for a specific diagnosis, but there is a severe
and pervasive impairment in specified behaviors.
o Asperger's Syndrome (Disorder) is characterized by
impairments in social interactions and the presence of
restricted interests and activities, with no clinically
significant general delay in language, and testing in the
range of average to above average intelligence.
(Autism Society of America)
§ Every day 53 babies are born in the United States who will later
be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. (Autism Society of
§ Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls. It
has no racial, ethnic or social boundaries. Family income,
lifestyle, and educational levels do not affect the chance of
autism's occurrence. (Autism Society of America)
§ Research shows that 50% of children diagnosed with autism will
remain mute throughout their lives.
(National Institute of Mental Health)
§ Approximately 10% of autistic individuals have savant abilities.
· Savant abilities refers extraordinary skills
not exhibited by most persons.
§ The National Institute of Mental Health listed many of the
symptoms that might occur with an autistic individual. Deficits
in the area of communication, social interaction and exploration
of environment are the three main areas cited.
(National Institute of Mental Health)
§ Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in
verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and
leisure play or activities. Stereotypic (self-stimulatory)
behaviors may be present, and in some cases, aggressive and/or
self-injurious behaviors might be present.
(Autism Society of America)
§ A specific cause of autism is unknown.
§ Current research links autism to biological and neurological
differences in the brain.
(Autism Society of America)
§ Studies of twins in the UK confirm that autism has a heritable
component but suggest that environmental influences play a role
as well. By examining the inheritance of the disorder,
researchers have shown that autism does run in families, but not
in a clear-cut way. Siblings of people with autism have a 3 to 8
percent chance of being diagnosed with the same disorder.
(Rodier, 2000)
§ Autism is not caused by bad parenting.
(Autism Society of America)
§ Autism is not caused by "refrigerator moms" as suggested by
psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim in the 1950s. (Jones, 1999)
§ Sensory Integration
o Integration and interpretation of sensory stimulation from
the environment by the brain. (Hatch-Rasmussen)
§ Behavioral Interventions
o Early, intensive behavioral interventions may improve
outcomes for children with autism and help them to achieve
their maximum potential.
(Center for Disease Control)
§ Diet
o People with autism are more susceptible to allergies and
food sensitivities than the average person. (Edelson) The
most common food sensitivity for children with autism is to
gluten and casein.
o Special diets, as described in Karyn Seroussi's book, may
be helpful to some children. (Seroussi, 2000)
§ Vitamin Therapy
o parents have reported that they have tried B6/magnesium and
/or DMG often with good or spectacular results (Rimland,
§ Use visuals
§ Avoid long strings of verbal instruction
§ Encourage developing child's special talents
§ Use child's fixations to motivate school work
§ Use concrete, visual methods to teach number concepts
§ Let child use a typewriter instead of writing
§ Protect child from sounds that hurt their ears
§ Place child near a window and avoid using fluorescent lights
§ Use weighted vests to calm nervous system
§ Interact with child while they are swinging or rolled in a mat
§ Don't ask child to look and listen at the same time
§ Teach with tactile learning materials (sandpaper alphabet)
§ Use printed words and pictures on flashcard
§ Generalize teaching
(Grandin, 2001)
§ Seek the assistance of another parent
§ Rely on positive resources in your life (church, counselors)
§ Take it one day at a time
§ Learn the terminology
§ Seek information (internet, support groups, library)
§ Do not be intimidated
§ Maintain a positive outlook
§ Find programs for your child
§ Take care of yourself
§ Decide how to deal with others
§ Keep daily routines as normal as possible
§ Know that you are not alone
§ Most importantly, keep your sense of humor
(Smith, 2000)
There are no known causes, no known cures and no good answers as
to how to work with children with autism. However, it is important to
dispel some of the myths and mysteries of autism. View the enclosed
PowerPoint Presentation regarding this subject. My goal is to do just
Autism Society of America (2002) What is Autism? Retrieved
March 17, 2002,
from http:www.autismsociety.
Autism Society of Wisconsin Autism Spectrum Disorders –
Statistics. Retrieved March
17, 2002, from
Center for Disease Control. FAQs about Autism. Retrieved
March 17,
2002, from
Edelson, Stephen M. Allergies and Food Sensitivities.
Retrieved March 17, 2002, from
Edelson, Stephen M. Autistic Savant. Retrieved March 17,
2002, from
Grandin, Temple (2001) Teaching Tips for Children and
Adults with Autism.
Retrieved March 17, 2002, from
Hatch-Rasmussen, Cindy Sensory Integration. Retrieved
March 17, 2002, from
Jones, Nancy (1999) About Autism: A Severe Disorder of the
Nervous System.
Retrieved March 17, 2002, from
National Institute of Mental Health. Autism. Retrieved
March 17, 2002, from
Rimland, Bernard (1994). The Second Great Autism
Watershed. Retrieved July 23,
2003, from
Rodier, Patricia M. (2000). Early Origins of Autism.
Scientific American, 282, 56-63.
Seroussi, Karyn (2000). Unraveling the Mystery of Autism
and Pervasive
Developmental Disorders. New York, NY: Simon &
Shriver, Mark D., Allen, Keith D., Mathews, Judith R.
(1999). Effective assessment of the
shared and unique characteristics of children with
autism. The School Psychology
Review, 28, 538-58.
Smith, Patricia McGill (2000) You Are Not Alone: For
Parents When They Learn
That Their Child Has a Disability. Retrieved March
26, 2002, from

What is autism?