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Autism Imagine a disease that affects more than half a million people in the United States impairs their social interaction and communication skills knows no racial ethnic or social boundaries and has no known cure Dorman 1999 Autism is a complex developmental disorder that most usually surfaces sometime during the first 3 years of life Ackerman 1997 This rare multifactoral disorder affects three to five out of every 10 000 school-aged children with males outnumbering females five to one Ackerman 1997 Sometimes called infantile autism it is a rare neurological disorder that affects childrens sensory systems and their abilities to communicate and to function socially Autism 1997 It is not a mental illness and so far there is no known cure for it This disorder consists of many different symptoms and currently there are many theories regarding the several possible causes of autism and the different ways to treat it Autism along with other pervasive development disorders PDD is characterized by severe and prevalent impairment in several areas of development as well as abnormal repetitions of words phrases or actions Catalano 1998 Specifically autism directly affects the development of the areas in the brain that are associated with communication skills and social interaction Catalano 1998 Autism affects thought perception and attention Autism 1997 A spectrum disorder autism symptoms can present themselves in a broad variety of combinations anywhere from mild to severe Dorman 1999 Even though a specific set of behaviors defines autism adults and children that have it can show any combination of the behaviors to any degree Dorman 1999 This constitutes for the fact that two individuals with the same exact diagnosis can act totally differently from one another there is no typical autistic person Trevarthen 1996 Some of the possible areas affected by autism are communication social interaction play sensory impairment and behaviors Ackerman 1997 Children with autism develop language use either slowly or not at all Dorman 1999 In
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