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Geeta Mohan

• Autism is a complex neuro developmental disorder

characterized by impaired social interaction,
impaired verbal and non-verbal communication, and
restricted and repetitive behavior.
• Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a
range of conditions characterized by challenges
with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and
nonverbal communication, as well as by unique
strengths and differences
• The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in
challenges and strengths possessed by each
person with autism.
Autism Prevalence

• About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum

disorder (ASD) according to estimates from Autism and
Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
• ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic
• ASD is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than
among girls (1 in 189).
• Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified
individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of between 1%
and 2%.
• In USA 66 cases per 10,000 children studied have the disorder
• Nearly 13 million people in India suffer from autism. 1 in 89
children between the ages of two and nine years in India suffer
from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Signs and symptoms of Autism

Spoken language
• Delayed speech development (for example, speaking less than 50 different
words by the age of two), or not speaking at all
• Frequent repetition of set words and phrases
• Speech that sounds very monotonous or flat
• Preferring to communicate using single words, despite being able to speak
in sentences
• Speaking in pre-learned phrases, rather than putting together individual
words to form new sentences

Responding to others
• Not responding to their name being called, despite having normal hearing
• Rejecting cuddles initiated by a parent or care taker (although they may
initiate cuddles themselves)
• Reacting unusually negatively when asked to do something by someone
Signs and symptoms of Autism
Interacting with others
• not being aware of other people’s personal space, or being unusually intolerant of people
entering their own personal space
• little interest in interacting with other people, including children of a similar age
• not enjoying situations that most children of their age like, such as birthday parties
• preferring to play alone, rather than asking others to play with them
• rarely using gestures or facial expressions when communicating
• avoiding eye contact
• having repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or
flicking their fingers
• playing with toys in a repetitive and unimaginative way, such as lining blocks up in order
of size or colour, rather than using them to build something
• preferring to have a familiar routine and getting very upset if there are changes to this
• having a strong like or dislike of certain foods based on the texture or color of the food
as much as the taste
• unusual sensory interests – for example, children with ASD may sniff toys, objects or
people inappropriately
Autism a heterogeneous disorder

• Afflicted individuals may be severely impaired in

some respects but maybe normal or even superior in
• Autistic patients who suffer from mental retardation
often perform well on tests involving rote memory,
jigsaw puzzle, music and art.
• Many have sizeable vocabulary , can spell well, read
matter aloud but without understanding.
• Often unable to use intonation to communicate
emotion, to coordinate facial expression with speech.
Autistic Savants

A person affected with autism who exhibits

exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field
(such as mathematics or music)
Savants are intellectually handicapped individuals
but display amazing and specific cognitive or artistic
She is not just autistic but an autistic savant,
meaning that she has unusual cognitive abilities,
such as a photographic memory and excellent
spatial skills
Genetic basis of Autism

• For a condition as complex as autism, it’s almost certain that

both genes and environment play an important role.
• Since the first autism twin study in 1977, several teams have
compared autism rates in twins and shown that autism is highly
heritable. When one identical twin has autism, there is about an 80
percent chance that the other twin has it too. The corresponding
rate for fraternal twins is around 40 percent.
• Some environmental risk factors for autism, such as exposure to a
maternal immune response in the womb or complications during
birth, may work with genetic factors to produce autism or intensify
its features.
• Researchers have tallied 65 genes they consider strongly linked to
autism, and more than 200 others that have weaker ties. Many of
these genes are important for communication between neurons or
control the expression of other genes.
• Environmental, immunological and metabolic factors may have a
contributory role.
Neural Mechanisms of Autism
• The heterogeneity of symptoms of autism spectrum
disorders( severe deficits in some behavioral functions
but not others) suggest underlying damage to some
neural structures but not others.
• Behavioral deficits varies markedly from patient to
patient suggesting similar variability in underlying
neural pathology.
• They show abnormal response to faces. They spend
less time than normal person ,looking at faces,
particularly eyes, they do not remember faces well.
Fusiform face area of autistic patients displays less
MRI activity in response to presentation of faces.
Neural Mechanisms of Autism

• Mirror neurons (cells that fire when a monkey

performs a particular goal directed action or
observes the same action performed by others – in
humans it helps to understand the intention of
others )
• Children with autism might be deficient of mirror
neuron function.
Autism Facts
• 1 in 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
• ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and
• While some people with ASD can live independently, others have severe
disabilities and require life-long care and support.
• Evidence-based psychosocial interventions, such as behavioural
treatment and parent skills training programmes , can reduce difficulties
in communication and social behaviour , with a positive impact on
wellbeing and quality of life for persons with ASD and their caregivers.
• Interventions for people with ASD need to be accompanied by broader
actions for making physical, social and attitudinal environments more
accessible, inclusive and supportive.
• Worldwide, people with ASD are often subject to stigma, discrimination
and human rights violations. Globally, access to services and support for
people with ASD is inadequate.

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