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Autism is used to describe a mental disorder where certain cognitive and affective functions of the brain are considered abnormal. The abnormalities manifest themselves through distinct characteristics that are usually able to be seen in children as early as two years old. Some of the distinct characteristics associated with autism include problems with social interaction, communication, and repetitive movements like rocking, flapping of the arms, and twirling around. Autistic behavior may also include lack of eye contact and the inability to distinguish emotions in others. Diagnosing autism can be difficult because in each potential case the child can show either a single characteristic or multiple characteristics while the severity of the characteristic can range from moderate to high.
Since the severity of each case varies autism is considered a spectrum disorder. Children diagnosed with a moderate case of autism can live fairly normal lives free from supervision. However, children diagnosed with a severe case will most likely need special attention throughout their lives as daily routines cannot be accomplished without help and for the potential of causing harm to themselves.
Less than half a century ago autism was thought to be caused by a child’s mother not showing enough affection toward the child. There have also been several debates about whether mercury in children vaccinations is related to the cause of autism. Multiple studies have shown that both of these assumptions where not true. Recently, an inherited gene was discovered that may be the leading cause of autism. Brain scans have also shown a difference in shape and structure of the brain in children.
Today there is still no cure for autism nor does one grow out of the disorder. However, effective treatments are being used in helping autistic behaviors. Early diagnosis and intervention is important in disrupting the autistic behavior. Medications and special diets have been known in helping lessen the autistic behavior.
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National Autism Association. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from