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AUTISM A Pervasive DevelopmentalSpectrum DisorderAutism or PPD pervasive developmental disorder is defined by the Columbiaencyclopedia as a rare neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the inabilityto relate to and perceive the environment in a realistic manner The onsetof the disorder is in infancy or early childhood generally before the ageof thirty months and males are affected four times as often as femalesSymptoms include impairment in social interaction fixation on inanimateobjects inability to communicate normally and resistance to changes indaily routine 1 Diagnosing Autism is based on four characteristics difficulty with languageabnormal responses to sensory stimuli resistance to change and difficultywith social interaction Other characteristics of autism may include makingthe same repetitive motion for hours repeating a sound or phrase inabilityto hold a conversation practicing unusual play patterns and extreme sensitivityto sound and touch Riccio 1999 Autistics can exhibit any combinationof these characteristics in any degree That is why autism is referred toas a spectrum disorder because at one end of the disorder a child maybe inflicted with some symptoms while at the opposite end a child may beinflicted with multiple symptoms with many areas in between Children whodisplay few symptoms may be characterized as mildly autisticIn 1943 a man by the name of Leo Kanner formally identified autism he labeledthe disorder autistic disturbance of affective contact Autism was firstdescribed in America officially in 1980 with the publication of DSMIIIPeter E Tanguay Julia Robertson Ann Derrick 1980 p1 There was muchconfusion both before and after Kanners description regarding the continuityof autism with schizophrenia and other then-recognized forms of psychosisLippcottWilliams Wilkins 1999 p8 Kanner noticed that autisticinfants had a reverse pattern typically observed in normal infants Infantsare normally interested in social as opposed to nonsocial environmentsThe cause for autism remains unclear although most neurological studiesseem to indicate a dysfunction in the brain as a possible reason Autismhas been found in children with brain abnormalities such as congenital rubellasyndrome neurofibromatosis and tuberous sclerosis Autism can also be presentin genetic
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