News / Health

Definitions of Autism Are Changing

TEXT SIZE - +
Melinda Smith


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that one in 88 children in the United States has been diagnosed with autism, a developmental brain disorder that the CDC also reports is five times more common in boys than girls. Research shows that intensive behavioral therapy can help autistic children make significant improvements if they are treated early.  New approaches are being used to diagnose and treat this still-mysterious disorder.

The Perromat family has three beautiful boys: Lucas, Philip and Thomas. Philip is the middle child. By the time he was a toddler, Kim and Carlos Perromat had already suspected that Philip's failure to make eye contact and his unwillingness to speak were caused by more than just slow development. So they were not really surprised when he was diagnosed with autism.  

Carlos says he tried to learn everything he could about the disorder. He believes he wasted a lot of valuable time trying to find the right treatment program for his child.

"It's not a question of lack of information. It's a question of too much. It's impossible to sift through," he said.

Kim and Carlos have been taught to use applied behavior techniques to help Philip identify what he wants.

At first, it was just one word, and even though Philip knew the word for the toy he wanted, he wouldn't say it until he realized it was the only way his parents would give it to him.

The genetic link to autism may be prevalent in more than one male member of the Perromat family. Carlos believes that he and his father, and now perhaps his oldest son Lucas, also have signs of a high-functioning type of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. The youngest boy, Thomas, has shown no symptoms.

Katie Divelbiss of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders says parents should find a way to communicate with their autistic child as soon as possible.

“Teach them how to communicate," said Divelbiss. "That could be using pictures, that could be teaching them how to use hand signs, that could be a one word or a 'ugh' - one utterance."

For decades, autism was categorized incorrectly as a form of childhood schizophrenia, and in recent years as a diverse spectrum of developmental brain disorders. Doctor Susan Hyman of the American Academy of Pediatrics says the definitions of autism are changing because the difference between disorders on that spectrum can be hard to distinguish.  

"It's better to think of it as a single spectrum or a singular category with different degrees of intensity and different other factors that impact how significant the diagnosis is," said Hyman.

Professor Roy Richard Grinker is a recognized authority on autism whose own daughter was diagnosed with the disorder in 1994. Back then, Grinker says, there was little awareness or understanding of autism in the United States. That has changed, he says.

"I don't know that the treatments for autism today are that much different than the treatments for autism back in 1994 or 1995, except for this: Society understands autism. Society gets it. Autism is no longer invisible," said Grinker.

The National Institute of Mental Health, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has a complete guide for parents who want to know more about autism, A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: autist
May 07, 2012 5:09 AM
I see that autism is getting more and more widespread - but people still do not understand that it's very dangerous for society: http://asperger-symptoms.net/aspergers-and-autism

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid