autism

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autism

(ô`tĭzəm), developmental disability resulting from a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. It is characterized by the abnormal development of communication skills, social skills, and reasoning. Males are affected four times as often as females. Children may appear generally normal until around the age of 24 to 30 months, although studies have identified signs of autism in children under a year of age.

Symptoms, which vary widely in severity, include impairment in social interaction, fixation on inanimate objects, inability to communicate normally, and resistance to changes in daily routine. Characteristic traits include lack of eye contact, repetition of words or phrases, unmotivated tantrums, inability to express needs verbally, and insensitivity to pain. Behaviors may change over time. Autistic children often have other disorders of brain function; about two thirds are mentally retarded; over one quarter develop seizures.

The cause of autism remains unclear, but a psychological one has been ruled out. Neurological studies indicate a primary brain dysfunction, perhaps related to abnormalities that appear to occur in the way the autistic child's brain develops. A genetic component is indicated by a pattern of autism in some families, and studies have suggested that a number of genes may be involved. Exposure in the womb to elevated levels of steroid hormones has been found to be associated with autism in boys in one study, but study compared the average levels of two groups of boys (one with, the without, autism) and individual levels in the two groups overlapped. The condition also appears to be more common in children born to older mothers or older fathers. Treatment in which autistic children are intensively and repetitively taught skills and behaviors from a young age appears to help some children with the disorder.

Bibliography

See T. Grandin, Emergence: Labeled Autistic (with M. M. Scariano, 1986, repr. 1996), Thinking in Pictures (1995), and The Autistic Brain (with R. Panek, 2013); L. Wing, ed., Aspects of Autism (1988); J. Donvan and C. Zucker, In a Different Key (2016). See also publications of the Autism Society of America.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

autism

[′ȯ‚tiz·əm]
(psychology)
A schizophrenic symptom characterized by absorption in fantasy to the exclusion of perceptual reality.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

autism

Psychiatry abnormal self-absorption, usually affecting children, characterized by lack of response to people and actions and limited ability to communicate
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
presents Changing the Course of Autism: A Scientific Approach for Parents and Physicians, a scientific scrutiny that re-examines commonly held beliefs about autism spectrum disorder, along with Jane Johnson, whose expertise lies in the field of researching and treating autism in children. Changing the Course of Autism takes the bold stance that autism is not solely caused by genetic factors, but rather a combination of genetic and environmental factors--an abundance of toxicity in the environment combined with autistic individuals' reduced ability or inability to detoxify.
The average age for the diagnosis of autism in children in the UK is currently five and a half.
There are also various associations, such as Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT), Parents for the Early Intervention of Autism in Children (PEACH), and New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC), which support behavior-analytic treatments for autistic populations.

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