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Why is the Number of Autistic Children Steadily Rising - Essay Example

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The diagnosis of autism among children, or more accurately Autism Spectrum Disorder, is on the rise in children throughout the world. Researchers, despite much speculation on the various causes behind the rise, have yet to find one definitive answer…
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Why is the Number of Autistic Children Steadily Rising
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Download file to see previous pages Various factors have been analyzed, such as better diagnostic criteria for analyzing behaviors in children, wider screening procedures to find children that may be suffering from autism. In some cases, the finger has been pointed towards the environment and what exactly it contains that could be making children autistic. Other studies have undertaken the responsibility of finding out what part genetics plays in the current rising trend of autism. Though one or all of these factors may one day emerge as the definitive cause behind autism and the various disorders associated with it, the fact remains that there is no one definitive cause, and as such, all must be examined and researched further with careful thought and study. Introduction The medical condition of autism, more commonly known today as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), actually comprises three or four specific medical disorders, each of which is unique and yet characterized by a common set of criteria. All types of autistic disorders are classified as neurodevelopment disorders, meaning that they affect the growth and development of the brain and/or the central nervous system (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2012). The most severe cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder are commonly called simply “autism” or “classical ASD”, while others along the spectrum are generally more mild, including the diagnoses of Asperger Syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified, usually abbreviated PDD-NOS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2012). Of the milder forms, Asperger Syndrome is seen the most often, while children that exhibit some symptoms are often diagnosed with PDD-NOS, and childhood disintegrative disorder, whereby a child progresses normally until approximately their third or fourth year and then suddenly shows regression, is the rarest form seen (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2012). In all disorders, the hallmark of the spectrum itself is delayed or nonexistent communications between the child and others (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2012). Generally, it has been found that symptoms of autism appear as early as two or three years of age, though they can appear both sooner and later in childhood development, at which time any type of disorder along the autism spectrum can be diagnosed by behavioral tests and other methods administered by a licensed physician (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2012). While criteria for diagnosing any disorder along the autism spectrum exist, there is no one “test” that can be administered (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2012). Due to this, physicians and parents alike must rely on signs, symptoms, and testing to determine what may be occurring with the child in question. The exact cause of autism, or if one even exists, is unknown at this time. Most researchers can agree that it is unlikely that a “smoking gun” will ever be found, and there will never be simply one reason that one child is affected by autism and another is not (Cone, 2009). Despite any lack of agreement on this issue, however, it cannot be denied that autism and the associated disorders with it are becoming more and more prevalent in children throughout the United States, and even throughout the world (Novella, 2008). In 2008, 1 in 88 children were found to have some type of disorder related to autism, as opposed to 1 in 150 even as recently as the year 2000 (“Prevalence of autism,” 2012). Moreover, it has been found that autism is five times as likely to occur in males versus ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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