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Autism

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Autism 3

An Assessment of Autism
Autism is a physical disorder of the brain that causes a lifelong developmental disability. The many different symptoms of autism can occur by themselves or in combination with other conditions such as: mental retardation, blindness, deafness, and epilepsy. Children with autism vary widely in their abilities and behavior. Each symptom may appear differently in each child. Children with autism often show some forms of bizarre, repetitive behavior called stereotyped behavior.
Each child with autism is unique, with their own individual range of symptoms and behaviors. Broad areas of similarity have been identified so that it is now possible to make some basic general statements about what children with autism are like as a group. Some symptoms and characteristics are: failure to develop normal socialization, problems in speech, language, and communication, strange relationships to objects and events, unusual responses to sensory stimulation, and progress delays.

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Scientists do not know why some children have autism. Studies have found that people with autism have differences in the structure of their cerebellums. Research is still unclear to be able to draw conclusions to biological and genetic causes.
Scientists have only identified one specific genetic connection with autism. A genetic syndrome called, fragile X syndrome. Fragile X syndrome is a recently discovered form of genetically caused mental retardation. Both sexes are affected by fragile X syndrome, with males usually more seriously affected. Children with fragile X syndrome can have behavior problems such as: hyperactivity, aggression, self-injury, and autistic-like behaviors. Severe language delays and problems are common. Delayed motor development and poor sensory skills are also disabilities associated with fragile X syndrome (Jordan & Powell, 1995).
In the United States, there are at least 400,000 people with autism, about one-third of them are children. Autism is one of the most common developmental disabilities (Harris & Weiss, 1998).

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For reasons researchers don not know, autism occurs about three to four times more frequently in boys than in girls.
For children with more severe cognitive limitations, the ratio is closer to two to one. For the group of children with higher cognitive skills, boys are more frequently represented at a rate greater than four to one. Girls, when affected, are more likely to be more seriously affected by symptoms of autism (Quill, 1995, p. 219).
To many experts and parents the number of children with autism seems to be increasing at a faster pace than before.
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