Autism: The Difficulties in Differential Diagnosis

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This essay discusses an important view concerning the differential diagnosis of infantile autism. As you will see, the symptomology common to autistic infants mimics that of severely retarded children in the early months of life. In addition, the identification of autism as a "disease" in infants is impeded by the lack of biological evidence to support such a diagnosis. Autism has, in multiple studies, been related to a multitude of organic dysfunction’s. These include everything from genetic markers to metabolic diseases. A few of these dysfunction’s, be they associated or causative, are discussed in this essay.

At present, physicians can base their early diagnoses only on the emotional and physical symptoms present in nearly 82% of all autistic children. However, the term "autism" as a disease should not be used to describe one disorder characterized by a certain core deficit, but rather should be considered an umbrella term to be used to describe a variety of associated disorders.

The early diagnosis of autistic disorders in infants is crucial for the success of treatment programs that have proven somewhat effective in recent years. There is no cure for autism, and no wonder drugs that are corrective of autistic behavior. Treatment therefore is directed on an emotional level which must begin in the early years of life to be successful. It has been shown that the period of psychological attachment plays a crucial role in predetermining autistic behavior.

The Early Onset of Autism

As previously discussed, the onset of infantile autism is characterized by a set of classic symptoms common to nearly all autistic children. Most often, it is not the physician who notices these symptoms, but rather the respo...

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...ection has lead to autism.

There is a substantial amount of evidence that also points to a genetic origin of autism. Studies with monozygotic twins suggest that autism, or at least an autistic-like disorder, is inherited. There is also strong evidence of the Fragile X Syndrome as being extremely associated with infantile autism. Also, a nearly four to one ratio of autistic boys to girls points to a sex-linked inheritance. It is the convention that genetic predisposition at least, is evident in many cases. Siblings are 50 to 100 times as likely to illustrate autistic symptoms than non-sibling relatives. The search for the genetic marker, or markers, as the case may be, is fast and furious at present. Many avenues are being pursued in many different directions. Perhaps history will repeat itself and someone will stumble across the answer to this puzzling disease.
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