Autism is a complex neurological disorder that dramatically affects people’s behaviors and social interactions. The disorder can be revealed in early childhood, by the age of 3. Although the first signs of autism can sometimes be identified in infants, the disorder is usually discovered at a later stage of life. Autistic children present a wide range of behavioral abnormalities, and they can be easily identified among normal children. While normal young children long for the presence of their parents and love to play in the company of other kids, autistic children are very indifferent, showing no interest to the people around them.
Egocentrism is a major behavioral characteristic of children with autism, who may even ignore the presence of their mothers or caretakers, avoiding any form of interaction with them. In early childhood, autistics develop repetitive, stereotype behaviors and become very upset if their routine is perturbed. In many cases, autistic children may also engage in self-harm activities such as head-banging.
The communication skills of autistic children are also impaired. While some children with autism may refuse to speak at all, others experience pronounced difficulties in expressing themselves. Autistics are generally withdrawn, passive, and low-responsive. In many cases, they even avoid making eye contact with other people.
Autism can be anywhere from mild to very pronounced. Children who suffer from milder forms of autism are usually very intelligent. For this category of children, the disorder only affects their emotional intelligence and their social interaction skills, leaving their judgment intact. Hence, while these children may have poor adaptation and social interaction skills, they may have a very good logic, excelling at math or in other similar areas. In many cases, autistics may even have remarkable talent for visual arts or music. At the opposite pole, children with severe autism also suffer from mental retardation. The development of mentally retarded autistic children is very slow and these children rarely make any progress.
Although the exact causes of autism haven’t yet been identified by medical science, it is believed that genetic factors have a very important role in the occurrence of the disorder. Autism involves abnormalities at the level of the central nervous system which are suspected to occur on the premises of genetic dysfunctions.
Considering the fact that there is no cure for autism, medical treatments available today can’t reverse the neurological damage caused by the disorder. However, what medical treatments can do is to minimize the undesirable effects of autism. If children with autism are prescribed an appropriate medical treatment, their development can be supported and their symptoms can be kept under control.
With the aid of medical treatments and the support of their families, autistic children can eventually be integrated into the society.