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Disorders Paper

2029 words - 9 pages


Autism it is a serious disorder that begins in infancy and is characterized by abnormal social development, impaired language and communication, and repetitive behavior. The diagnosis of autism is based on “observed behavior and educational and psychological testing (Autism Speaks).” When trying to determine whether a child is autistic or not there are a number of signs that parents and observers can watch for. Children that have poor eye contact, little interest in other people, and do not respond to their name are considered to be autistic. Other signs involve the child having trouble with their speech. This could mean no babbling or no speech at all by 16 months. If ...view middle of the document...

A large amount of autistic children display neurological abnormalities. According to Singleman and Rider, it was once hypothesized that neurons in the frontal cortex proliferate wildly during the early sensitive period for the brain development but do not become properly interconnected. Almost all dysfunctions that pertain to an autistic child involve some form of mental processing. This then leads to the mirror neuron simulation hypothesis which is another possible cause of autism. This view seems to direct the cause to malfunctions of mirror neuron systems. If there are problems associated with this system in a variety of areas in the brain then this could be the reason why autistic patients have trouble with imitation, theory-of-mind skills, empathy, and language. Mirror neuron systems provide us with the ability to read other people’s feelings and thoughts by comparing them to our own feelings and thoughts that we have experienced. By doing this there is a connection made between you and the other person. “In one study (Mclntosh et al.,2006), autistic and non-autistic adults watched pictures of happy and angry facial expressions so that the researchers could see if their faces automatically and subtly mimicked the expressions that they saw (Carol K. Singleman, Elizabeth A. Rider).” This allows researchers to see how mirror neurons allow individuals to simulate other people’s emotions. Autistic children can display this when their asked to do so, but they will not do it spontaneously. In result, this is a way of proving that autistic individuals have dysfunctions in their mirror neurons. Autistic individuals have a difficult time with certain executive functions. These functions are included in the prefrontal cortex of the brain and allow us to plan, change flexibility from one course of actions to another, and inhibit actions. Some neurobiological theorists believe that this could be the cause of their repetitive behavior. Autism then seems to be a pervasive disorder.
Treatments for this disorder include more physical and psychological therapy than anything. It would be nice to think that these children can just take some sort of “magic pill” and all their dysfunctions will go away, but that option does not exist. “Some autistic children are given drugs to control behavioral problem such as hyperactivity and/or obsessive-compulsive behavior, drugs that help then benefit from educational programs but do not cure autism (Carol K. Singleman, Elizabeth A. Rider).” Autism has not yet been able to be fully treated to where an individual is no longer autistic. However, there are many helpful treatment programs that provide higher functioning qualities in the individual. One of which is the applied behavior analysis (ABA). This is one of the most recommended treatment methods for autism spectrum disorders. ABA uses the technique of positive reinforcement “to strengthen a behavior by arranging for it to be followed by something of value has been...

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