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AUTISM

INTRODUCTION
Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder that includes
impairments in social interaction and developmental language
and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive
behaviours. The disorder covers a large spectrum of symptoms,
skills, and levels of impairment. It ranges in severity from a
handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a
devastating disability that may require institutional care.
Children with autism have trouble communicating. They have
trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This
makes it very hard for them to express themselves either with
words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch.
A child with autism who is very sensitive may be greatly troubled
-- sometimes even pained -- by sounds, touches, smells, or sights
that seem normal to others.
Children who are autistic may have repetitive, stereotyped body
movements such as rocking, pacing, or hand flapping. They may
have unusual responses to people, attachments to objects,
resistance to change in their routines, or aggressive or selfinjurious behaviour. At times they may seem not to notice people,
objects, or activities in their surroundings. Some children with
autism may also develop seizures. And in some cases, those
seizures may not occur until adolescence.
Many people with autism are cognitively impairted to some
degree. In contrast to more typical cognitive impairment, which is
characterized by relatively even delays in all areas of

development, people with autism show uneven skill


development. They may have problems in certain areas, especially
the ability to communicate and relate to others. But they may
have unusually developed skills in other areas, such as drawing,
creating music, solving math problems, or memorizing facts. For
this reason, they may test higher -- perhaps even in the average or
above-average range -- on nonverbal intelligence tests.

Deletion (1), duplication (2) and inversion (3)


are all chromosome abnormalities that have
been implicated in autism.
Several lines of evidence point to synaptic dysfunction as a cause
of autism.Some rare mutations may lead to autism by disrupting
some synaptic pathways, such as those involved with cell
adhesion. All known teratogens (agents that cause birth defects)
related to the risk of autism appear to act during the first eight
weeks from conception, and though this does not exclude the
possibility that autism can be initiated or affected later, there is
strong evidence that autism arises very early in development.

CONTRIBUTING ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

Vaccinations can trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not


many, children, especially those who are genetically predisposed
to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions.

Other environmental exposures may trigger, or exacerbate,


autism in certain children, especially those who are genetically
predisposed to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions.
Pesticide Exposure: Scientists think that chemicals in pesticides
may adversely affect those who are genetically predisposed to
autism, leading them to develop the full-blown disorder
Parental Age: A study found that women who are 40 years old
have a 50 percent greater risk of having a child with autism than
women who are between 20 and 29 years old.
Pharmaceuticals: Babies that have been exposed to certain
pharmaceuticals in the womb, including SSRIs, valproic acid and
thalidomide, have been found to have a higher risk of autism.
Freeway Proximity: A study found that children born to mothers
who live within a 1000 feet of freeways have twice the risk of
autism
Limited Prenatal Vitamin Intake: Women who reported not
taking prenatal vitamins immediately before and during a
pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child with autism, one
study found.

SYPTOMS

Social interactions and relationships. Symptoms


may include:

Significant problems developing nonverbal communication skills,


such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions, and body posture.

Failure to establish friendships with children the same age.

Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements


with other people.

Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty


understanding another person's feelings, such as pain or sorrow.

Verbal and nonverbal communication. Symptoms may include:

Delay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 40% of people


with autism never speak.1

Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people with


autism have difficulties continuing a conversation after it has
begun.

Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism


often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously
(echolalia).

Difficulty understanding their listener's perspective. For example,


a person with autism may not understand that someone is using
humour. They may interpret the communication word for word
and fail to catch the implied meaning.

Limited interests in activities or play. Symptoms may include:

An unusual focus on pieces. Younger children with autism often


focus on parts of toys, such as the wheels on a car, rather than
playing with the entire toy.

Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and


adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license
plates.

A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with


autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on
driving the same route every day to school.

Stereotyped behaviours. These may include body rocking and


hand flapping.

INTERVIEW OF AUTISM PSYCHOLOGIST


GEETA: What is autism?
PSYCHOLOGIST: There are two types of developmental
disorders. They are psychological and psychiatric
developmental disorders. Psychological disorders are
learning disorder, language disorder and Autism sprectrum
disorder. Here, Autism spectrum disorder includes Autistic
disorder, child hood disintegrative disorder, pervasive
development disorder and Asperger syndrome.
GEETA: What are the most obvious signs of autism?
PSYCHOLOGIST: The symptoms are:
1. They dont like cuddling (physical contact)
2. They do not speak at all.
3. They are not at all interested in other people (lack of
social skills).
4. They find it much harder to understand other peoples
feelings. (cognitive defects)
5. They exhibit repetitive behaviour.
6. They exhibit restricted behaviour by sticking to a set of
rules.
7. They resist change.

8. They tend to cause self injuries such as skin picking,


eye poking and hand biting.
9. They have unusual eating habits.
10. Many individuals with this disorder show superior
skills in perception and attention, relative to the other
people.
11. They maintain poor eye contact while others are
talking to them
12. They are very interested in speaking to a particular
person but not with a group of people. They dont
know the effect of their talking on the other people
due to poor talking skills.
13. An autistic person even more about himself than
about the others.
14. They find sudden loud noises unpleasant and quite
shocking. One could observe the similar reactions
when there are any sudden changes in smells, intensity
of light and temperature.
15. An autistic person could cope up with an incident
much better than what a normal person does.
16. They exhibit obsessive behaviour.
17. They become busy with them self.
18. They dont respond to external stimuli attentively.
19. They prefer to be alone.

20. They keep on stacking up or lining up the objects


repeatedly.

GEETA: When should diagnose for Autism spectrum


disorder (ASD) begin?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Autism appears to have its roots in very
early brain development. So, the symptoms of autism tend
to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age.
Ex: 1. they cannot be comfortable even with breast
feeding.
2. They do not respond to smile.
It may appear even at the age of 21.
Ex: one hallmark of adult autism is:
a. Limited interest.
b. Dislike of travel.
c. Refusal to try new food or restaurants.
d. Following the same schedule every day
With treatment and activities or autistic adults, the quality
of life can be improved significantly.
GEETA: How to diagnose ASD?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Child hood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) is a
behaviour rating scale, intended to help diagnose autism. It
was developed by Eric Schopler Robert J. Reicher and
Barbara Rochen Renner.

CARS was designed to help differentiate children with


autism from those with other developmental delays such as
intellectual disabilities.
This scale is a diagnostic assessment method that rates
children on scale from 1 to 4 for various criteria, ranging
from normal to severe.
GEETA: What features are observed subjectively with the
help of CARS?
PSYCHOLOGIST: They are like:
1. Relationship with people
2. Emotional responses
3. Adaptation to change.
4. Visual response
5. Responses through listening
6. Verbal communication (no babbling within 12
months and no single words within 16 months)
7. Activity level
CARS has also been shown to have 100% predictive
accuracy when distinguished between groups of
autistic and intellectually disabled children, which
was superior to ABC test and diagnostic check test.

GEETA: What is the main cause for autism?


PSYCHOLOGIST: Autism has a strong genetic basis. A
mutation in a gene that encodes a protein, Syn GAP1
severely disrupts how the developing brain circuits organise
themselves during a humans first years of life.
The Scripps research institute reported in the journal
(November 2012 issue) that they are discovering how
genetic mutation can be responsible for the behavioural
and cognitive problems found in people with ASD.
Syn GAP1 is one of the important genes in cognition. So far
every time a mutation that disrupts the function of Syn
GAP1 has been found, that individuals brain simply could
not develop properly.
That is, the genetic mutation that causes ASD generally
affects synapses. It regulates the development of synoptic
function like no other gene.
GEETA: Why Autism is known as wide spectrum
disorder?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Wide spectrum disorder means that no
two people with autism will have exactly same symptoms.
This is because of brain chemistry. Brain chemistry
develops differently in children. Certain chemicals in the

brains of children between 3 and 10 years of age with an


ASD develop differently compared to those with
idiopathetic (of unknown cause) developmental disorder.
Researchers from the University of Washington said that
Creatin, choline and N-acetylasparate, chemicals found in
brain grey matter develop at different rates among children
with ASD.
Thus, it is suggested that brain developmental process
underlies autism spectrum disorder, where as the children
with developmental disorder exhibit a different more static
developmental pattern of brain chemical change.

GEETA: What are the benefits of early intervention for


kids with an ASD?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Children with an ASD who received early
intervention tend to have better brain function, skills to
communicate and overall social behaviour, compared to
ASD children with no early intervention. This is because the
brains of kids with autism appear to respond well to
PIVOTED RESPONSE TREATMENT if it is provided early on.
GEETA: Are there any associated problems with autism?
PSYCHOLOGIST: ASD can be associated with intellectual
disability, difficulties in motor co-ordination and attention
and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal
disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills,
music, maths and art.
GEETA: What does that mean to be on the spectrum?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Each individual with autism is unique.
There are people with autism with exceptional abilities in
music dance academic skills.
Indeed many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride
in their distinctive abilities and a typical way of viewing the
world.

Others, around 60% with autism have significant disability


and are unable to live independently. About 25% of
individuals with ASD are non verbal but can learn to
communicate using other means.

GEETA: What are the main goals when treating children


with autism?
PSYCHOLOGIST: The main goals are
1. To lessen associated defects
2. Family distress
3. To increase quality of life and
4. Functional independence.
GEETA: What are the main resources for treatment of
autism?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Primary resources are
1. Family
2. Educational institutions
The second category focuses on non social or general
processing: The executive functions such as
Working memory
Planning
Inhibition
GEETA: Do we have any autism awareness day?
PSYCOLOGIST: World autism awareness day is APRIL
2nd.world autism awareness month is APRIL.

COCLUSION:
The psychologist I met was Dr. ARUNA B.Sc, D.S.M. M.Sc.
(Psychology). Aruna was the founder of AZITH MEMORY
AND CONTROL CENTRE, IN VIJAYAWADA.
SHE had been a counsellor for last 20 years. She had
been training many kids suffering from autism and she
delivered many speeches creating awareness regarding
autism.
GEETA: I personally learned a lot from this project it was
really a new experience.