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Children and Adolescents with Autism - Characteristics and Research


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Autism is also called autistic disorder. The disorder:

  • Appears in early childhood, usually before age 3

  • Prevents children and adolescents from interacting normally with other people

  • Affects almost every aspect of their social and psychological development

    Autism characteristics range in intensity from mild to severe. Not every child behaves the same with the same diagnosis. Signs of autism in children and adolescents are typically:

  • Difficulty communicating with others

  • Exhibits repetitious behaviors, such as rocking back and forth, head banging, or touching or twirling objects

  • Have a limited range of interests and activities

  • May become upset by small changes in environment and daily routine

    In addition, some children may experience hypersensitivity in:

  • Hearing

  • Touch

  • Smell

  • Taste

    Symptoms of autism can be seen in early infancy. The condition may also appear after months of normal development. It is not possible in most cases to identify a specific event that triggers the disorder.

    Autism or a related condition is:

  • Three times more common in boys than in girls

  • Diagnosed in as many as 12 in every 10,000 children

    Causes of autism:

  • Researchers are unsure what causes this disorder

  • Studies suggest autism might be caused by a combination of biological or environmental factors, or both, including viral exposure before birth, a problem with the immune system, or genetics

  • Although recent scientific investigations examined the possible connection between autism and the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, the available data to date does not appear to support a casual link

  • Studies of families and twins suggest a genetic basis for the disorder

    If scientists find the genes responsible for autism, the knowledge would give physicians new tools to diagnose the disorder and help scientists develop gene-based therapies.

    Some studies reveal that the brains of people with autism may function differently from those that are considered “normal. " There is research that suggests an abnormal slowing down of brain development before birth may cause autism.

    Chemicals in the brain also may play a role in autism:

  • As a normal brain develops, the level of serotonin declines

  • In some children with autism, serotonin levels do not decline

  • Researchers continue to investigate whether this happens only to children with autism or whether other factors are involved

    Source: SAMHSA's National Mental Health Information Center

    Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional.

    This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

    Written by: Connie Limon Visit: for more information. Visit: for a variety of FREE reprint articles.

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