Tonya’s Cup: What is Autism?


Definition: Infantile autism is a syndrome with symptoms of self-absorption and aloneness that appear in early childhood or are present from birth. The term autism was introduced by Leo Kanner in 1943 to describe a developmental condition in which children are unable to form meaningful relationships or to mature socially, despite excellent motor skills. These children offer serious management problems because of their disregard of other people.

Symptoms: Withdrawal and highly repetitive play, with rage reactions if interrupted; predilection for rhythmical movements, such as rolling, jumping, rocking, and whirling; many language disturbances.

Causes: Most experts agree that no known factors in a child’s psychological environment cause autism. Chemical exposure or German measles during a mother’s pregnancy, as well as certain other genetic defects, may be involved.

Treatment and cure: There is no known medical cure for autism. Some therapists and parents have made progress in relating to autistic children by using intense stimulation.

Although autism is poorly understood, appropriate training tailored to the individual’s needs is the most effective treatment. Drug therapy may help control behavioral outbursts and hyperactivity. Further research with prescription drugs appears to provide some hope.

Resources: There is a vast amount of material available today. Go through Google or other search engines.

— Penny Smith