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Running head: AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

Autism Spectrum Disorder


Victor Martinez
Houston Baptist University

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

Autism Spectrum Disorder


In the modern world, communication and socialization make up a substantial portion of
expected developmental standards. Social expectations like going to school and getting a job
become extremely difficult to members of society who are incapable because of a developmental
disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is one of these disorders that lowers the standard of
living by isolating those afflicted from having normal relationships, beginning as young as age
two. Autism is considered a Pervasive Developmental Disorder characterized by impairments in
social functioning and interactions, in addition to having a limited variety of interests (Woo,
Donnelly, Steinberg-Epstein, & Leon, 2015). Although the disorder was acknowledged
as early as the 1940s, it has taken decades of research to get a more comprehensive and accurate
view of Autism Spectrum Disorders that used today (Schendel et al., 2013)
Leo Kanner published his research on early infantile autism in 1946 and was the first to
do so (Davlantis, & Rogers, 2016). He observed a 13 children with a similar profiles that
distinguished them from the general population including: an inability to perform standard social
exchanges, impaired ability to adapt to change, and problems with communication (Davlantis, &
Rogers, 2016). There were not very many advances in the following years; In the 1940s, specific
characteristics now associated with Autism were believed to be caused by the mother-child
relationship or refrigerator parenting (Schendel et al., 2013). It was not until the discovery of
intensive behavioral intervention in the 1960s in addition to the invention and acceptance of the
first Autistic diagnostic test that a more accurate view of Autism was reached. The Autism
Diagnostic Interview and Observation Schedule (ADI and ADOS) became a reliable basis for
identifying Autism Spectrum Disorder in children under the age of two (Davlantis, & Rogers,
2016). The new test showed that the boundaries of people included in the group was much wider

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

than originally thought (Davlantis, & Rogers, 2016). Previously, the common belief was that
Autism only played a role in extreme cases involving self-aggression, no communication, and
little to no social interest, but in reality, this number should include people of varying degrees of
symptoms (Davlantis, & Rogers, 2016). Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, most patients
identified with Autism were grouped with people with symptoms so severe, they impacted dayto-day functioning (Thompson, 2013). In addition, advances in technology help aid in
diagnosing; brain imaging and genetic studies have helped increase understanding and
identifying causes of Autism (Davlantis, & Rogers, 2016).
Diagnostic Criteria
Under the previous Diagnostic and Statistic Manuel of Disorders, Autism Disorder fell
under the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders among the other subcategories of
Asperger Syndrome, Retts Disorders, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive
Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Today, the DSM-5 is the most up-to-date
diagnostic manual, which has changed the manner in which these disorders are labeled. The
DSM-5 now only has one Autism Spectrum Disorder category because of concern that the
diagnoses were being unequally applied in both diagnosis and treatment (DSM-5 Diagnostic
Criteria, 2013).
People with ASD show symptoms in two areas: communication and restricted behavior
(DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria, 2013). Communication problems can present themselves as
inappropriate responses in social situations, difficulty in creating and maintaining relationships,
and misinterpretation of nonverbal cues, which are now all required for diagnosis (Williams et
al., 2014). They also dislike change and become reliant on the consistency of routines, while
either being overly sensitive to stimuli, under sensitive to stimuli, or focusing on the wrong

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

stimuli (DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria, 2013). Since the new diagnostic criteria has eliminated
the various subtypes of Autism, one must keep in mind that all the different symptoms that can
be present fall on spectrums that are not entirely separate from one another (DSM-5 Diagnostic
Criteria, 2013). This also allows for understanding an individual cases severity and the new
criteria accounts for three levels of severity based on level of support needed: very substantial
support, substantial support, or just support. Some critics say that it still does not meet a
comprehensive enough standard that had been originally intended (Williams et al., 2014). For a
diagnosis, people must also display symptoms at a young age even if they are identified in
retrospect (DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria, 2013). Other disorders must also be ruled out before a
person may be diagnosed (DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria, 2013). It must also be recognized if the
person has any of the following: intellectual impairment, language impairment, medical, genetic,
or environmental factors, or catatonia (DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria, 2013).
Epidemiology
Autisms prevalence has increased in recent years with an estimated affect on about one
percent of children (Schendel et al., 2013). The CDC even estimates that about one in 68 children
in the United States have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder which is about 30
percent more than in 2008, 80 percent more than 2006, and 120 percent more than in 2002 and
2000 (10 Things to Know About New Autism Data, 2014). It should also be considered that
around 20 percent of the Autistic population has recorded symptoms of ASD but have not
received an official classification by community professional (10 Things to Know About New
Autism Data, 2014). Most of the children diagnosed did not receive their diagnosis until after
age four, with less than half beginning evaluations by age three, despite being able to receive the
diagnosis at age two (10 Things to Know About New Autism Data, 2014). With regard to the

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

sexes, males are four times as likely to receive the diagnosis as females are, but the ratio is
slightly closer in lower functioning children (10 Things to Know About New Autism Data,
2014). In addition, white children were more likely to be diagnosed than black or Hispanic
children, but Autism in black and Hispanic children is more likely to be comorbid with
intellectual disability (10 Things to Know About New Autism Data, 2014). About half of the
Autistic population actually has average to above average intelligence (10 Things to Know
About New Autism Data, 2014).
Etiology
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a heterogeneous disorder and does not have one specific
source although there is evidence that there is a strong relationship with genetics (Field, 2014;
Thompson, 2013). Although studies have shown a correlation between genetics and ASD,
genetics alone cannot account for all cases of Autism, so environmental influences must be
acknowledged as well (Field, 2014). Researchers used monozygotic twins to understand the
extent of genetic influence, and found that although there is a strong heritability factor,
differences in symptom severity points to epigenetic factors (Wong, 2014). These epigenetic
factors can include cognitive processes, prenatal factors, and brain development (Wong, 2014).
ASD has also has a higher probability as the parents ages increase. Another possible factor could
be the nutrients received as a fetus (Field, 2014).
Treatment
Parents of children with ASD often use a combination of treatments and interventions
(Mire, Raff, Brewton, & Goin-Kochel, 2015). Behaviorally based interventions hopes to improve
skill sets across several areas including motor skills, communication skills, and social skills but
mostly focusing on the latter two (Mire et al., 2015). Comprehensive Treatment Models uses

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

several focused and thorough interventions. Biomedical interventions, also called


Complementary and Alternative Medicine, have been attempted by around 70 percent of parents
whose children have ASD (Mire et al., 2015). Psychotropic medicines are also frequently
prescribed, but there is still no drug treatment for ASD, although medication may be used to
ameliorate specific symptoms (Mire et al., 2015).
Conclusion
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that causes communication
deficits, social impairments, and repetitive and restrictive behavior, affecting around one percent
of children. This causes qualitative deficits in standard experiences of life including developing
significant and stable relationships and forming novel experiences (Schendel et al., 2013) There
is not one single cause of ASD, but a variety of interventions have been
developed to treat the heterogeneous disorder (Mire et al., 2015). As research
continues on ASD, children with the disorder, as well as their parents, hope that new information
will continue to improve life style expectations.

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

7
References

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Field, S. S. (2014). Interaction of genes and nutritional factors in the etiology of autism and
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Mire, S. S., Raff, N. S., Brewton, C. M., & Goin-Kochel, R. P. (2015). Age-related trends in
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Schendel, D. E., Bresnahan, M., Carter, K. W., Francis, R. W., Gissler, M., Grnborg, T. K., & ...
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Williams, K., Woolfenden, S., Roberts, J., Rodger, S., Bartak, L., & Prior, M. (2014). Autism in
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