Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and interaction, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). As our understanding of autism continues to evolve, it is essential to delve deeper into the topic by exploring various sources on the internet. In this assignment, students will use the internet to answer the following questions related to autism.
Question 1: What are the causes of autism?
Autism is a complex disorder with multiple potential causes. While the exact etiology of autism remains unclear, research suggests that it is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors (Sandin et al., 2014). Genetic mutations, such as changes in specific genes, have been identified as contributing to the development of autism. Moreover, studies have shown that certain environmental factors, such as advanced parental age, prenatal exposure to certain medications or chemicals, and complications during pregnancy or birth, may also increase the risk of autism (Gardener et al., 2009; Goldberg et al., 2013). However, it is important to note that not all individuals with autism have identifiable genetic or environmental risk factors, highlighting the yet unexplained complexity of the disorder.
Question 2: What are the common symptoms of autism?
Autism is characterized by a wide range of symptoms that can vary in severity and presentation. The core symptoms of autism are deficits in social communication and interaction, which include difficulties in reciprocating social and emotional cues, maintaining eye contact, and developing and maintaining relationships (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Individuals with autism also exhibit restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. These can include repetitive movements (e.g., hand flapping, rocking), insistence on sameness or routines, and intense or focused interests in specific topics (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Additionally, individuals with autism may have sensory sensitivities, experiencing either hypo- or hypersensitivity to certain sounds, textures, tastes, or smells (Green et al., 2015). It is crucial to note that the presentation of symptoms can vary widely among individuals with autism, making it a heterogeneous disorder.
Question 3: How is autism diagnosed?
The diagnosis of autism is primarily based on clinical observations and assessments by healthcare professionals. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the most widely used diagnostic manual for autism (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of autism requires the presence of persistent deficits in social communication and interaction, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. In addition, these symptoms must be present in early childhood, even if they may not be fully manifested until later in development (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The diagnosis process typically involves comprehensive assessments, including interviews with parents or caregivers, observations of the individual’s behavior, and psychological testing. It is important to involve multiple professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, speech and language therapists, and occupational therapists, to obtain a holistic understanding of the individual’s strengths and challenges.
In conclusion, autism is a complex disorder with multiple potential causes, varying symptoms, and a diagnostic process that relies on clinical assessments. By utilizing the internet as a resource for information, students can explore the latest research and developments in our understanding of autism. Additionally, they can gain insights into the multidisciplinary approach required for diagnosis and treatment, as well as the challenges faced by individuals with autism and their families.