Autism refers to a pervasive disorder in development marked by the presence of impaired communication, social interaction, restricted repertoire of interests and activities. This condition is prevalent in as many as one in every hundred and ten children worldwide (“Understanding Autism”, n.d.).
Symptoms include qualitative impairment of social interactions such as inability to use multiple non-verbal gestures, body postures and facial expressions. Difficulty developing social interactions especially with peers or the surroundings and lack of emotional or social reciprocity is also a common symptom (“Understanding Autism”, n.d.). Atypical ways of playing with objects such as toys, hand flapping, head banging or spinning are also common abnormal behaviors especially among children with autistic disorder. Other symptoms include short attention span, hyperactivity, stereotyped or repetitive patterns of activity, self-injurious behaviors and aggressiveness (“Understanding Autism”, n.d.). They also show an unusual response to sensory stimuli such as pain or a hypersensitivity to certain sounds. Addressing these conditions improves learning, attention and related behaviors.
According to DSM-IV Autism Diagnostic Criteria, children have to display at least two impairments in social interactions, at least one communication impairment, and repetitive, restricted and stereotypical behavioral patterns, activities and interests in at least one way.
In the video tool-kit, “Two Faces of Autism” James and Lawrence exhibit several abnormal behaviors in comparison to the same age peers, notably, difficulty using non-verbal communication, social interaction and inability to make eye contact especially during conversations.
Interventions for autistic disorders involve mainly behavioral treatments, and/or medicines. Intensive behavioral intervention in children involves the whole family and a team of professionals working together. This can sometimes include parent training under a therapist’s supervision, but with the parent leading the session (Comer, 2011). Other programs, however, deliver the therapy in a classroom, preschool or a specialized centre. The Lovaas Model and Early Start Denver Model are admirable examples of early intervention therapies developed for autistic patients (Comer, 2011). No drugs are known to treat autistic disorders themselves, yet. However, medications are usually used to treat symptoms such as hyperactivity, anxiety and any other behaviors that might result in injury.