It is believed to have a genetic componenet as in twin and non-identical studies have been complete with interesting results. Identical twins occurred in 65% of the participants and non-identical twins occurred in 0% of those who participated. Often, there is a family history of Autism. Researchers have discovered a link of autism occuring within the structure of chromosomes 15 and 7. Further research is very important. Physicans can identify autism by there symptoms only. A provisional diagnosis can be made as early as 18 months and a follow up at 5 years to confirm the diagnosis.
As stated, above one of the areas effected is in social interaction. Individual with autism often lack eye contact, interest in other children, or other people in their lives. This is especially difficult on their mothers and unfortunately were incorrectly for many years thought to occur because of cold and distant mothers. Often, those with autism use non-verbal communication and lack social and emotional reciprocity and empathy. These symptoms do not occur in all individuals.
Another area of impairment includes communication. Their play is not as varied and they seem not to understand the idea of play. There are delays in speaking, conversing, repitive language, and make-believe play or social initiative.
Lastly, are difficulties in restricted interests and sterotyped behavior. Often those with autism have abnormal preoccupations, insistance on routines or rituals, repetitive motor skills mannerisms.
In Asperger's Disorder the is impairment of social interaction, restricted interests, sterotyped behaviors, causes impairment in daily life, generally there is no language delay and not cognitive delays.
In Pervasive Developmental Disorder-NOS (PPD), there is sever impairment in social interaction and communications. There interests are also restricted and they do not meet the criteria for Autism or Asperger's.
Early identification, good education and the support of family and friends, most children with autism can improve. They require intesive teaching, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy for some and programs of preschool. The earlier intervention begins the more effective it can be which should include systematic and organized teaching, specialized curriculum intensive interation (20-25 hours per week between the ages of 3-5 years) and family involvement.
For adolescents and adults, they often require transitional programs from the education system. Some an live alone and maintain employment with some guidance and others will always require someone to live with them.
One of my clients, although he seemed to have the skills to live alone, in actuality he required much assistance at home. I was "travel training" him to utilize public transportation to and from work and home. This was my first time on a bus and he knew directions instantly. I came back and my supervisor asked, "So, who did the training?" I have to admit he did. At his job, cleaning tables he would often become fixated on one section of a table and require prompting to do something different. His workers were very understanding.
The public, law enforcement, education system and the media need to have a better understanding of autism and ASD. "Typically" they seem them as only flapping their hands and being non-responsive to others or at the other end like "Rainman" As stated before abilities vary. I also had a client who had to have his specific routine at day progam and home before he left and when he arrived. Often, he would throw an screaming and crying "tantrum"
Most people look at the parents as "why don't you do something more" when in fact the child or adult is simply distressed by the change in routine. Others actually say, "can't you manage your own child?" Other reasons for a "tantrum" may be too much stimulation as sound and touch are very difficult for them to handle. They seem to have a hypersensitive neurological system.