With an increasing number of individuals being diagnosed with Autism, many people have heard of the disorder, but may not fully understand what it actually is. Autism is a developmental disorder that impacts the social, communication, and motor skills of an individual. Those people with Autism may have difficulty expressing themselves and communicating with others. While some of these individuals may be extremely intelligent with high IQs, others may suffer from mental disabilities. Some with Autism may speak, while others can be silent. The autism spectrum is fairly wide, and patients with Autism may fall anywhere on this spectrum with varying symptoms.
Historically, Autism has probably been around for over a century, but wasn't recognized as such until more recently. In the past, Autism was confused with schizophrenia, which is another mental disorder. Professionals also believed that there was only one cause for Autism, which we now know that there isn't only one cause and there are varying degrees of the disorder.Some autistic children are extremely bright and gifted while suffering from social disabilities, while other autistic children may not be mentally able to understand basic concepts. In 1912, a Swiss psychiatrist named Eugene Bleuler began noticing a pattern in schizophrenic patients who were self-absorbed. He referred to this condition as Autism.
Although Bleuler was the first to use this specific term, he was not the first to recognize Autism as a separate disorder from schizophrenia. Child psychologist Leo Kanner first recognized Autism as an independent mental disorder and noted common symptoms in a group of 11 children. These common symptoms included good memory, social interaction problems, food problems, over sensitivity to stimulants such as sound, delayed echolalia, displaying anguish over change, intellectual potential, and difficulty with spontaneity. In 1944, Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician discovered Asperger Syndrome, which is a specific type of high functioning Autism. He studied children who spoke intelligently but differed from average children with clumsy motor skills. It wasn't until the 1980's that Autism research boomed and researchers found that Autism develops most commonly to neurological disturbances combined with other genetic factors and metabolic disturbances.
Studies have shown that boys are more at risk than girls for developing Autism, and a child who has a twin with Autism will most likely develop symptoms of Autism and fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum. Autism has numerous symptoms which provide different reactions in each patient. Patients can have the same symptoms in different degrees, which makes it difficult to predict if an individual's symptoms will be mild or severe. Doctors can usually diagnose Autism at age two, however some infants can show signs earlier on. A big indication for Autism is when a child isn't developing or reaching milestones at the appropriate ages. Developmental delays indicate there may be a problem that needs further examination by a doctor. Children who are not speaking or socializing by age two should be tested for Autism. Children who have tested positive for Autism can begin treatment right away and learn how to adapt with this disorder. Parental support and encouragement is extremely important in helping the child improve functionality in their daily lives.