Understanding Autism

Autism is a neurological disorder caused by abnormalities in the brain. Researchers have discovered that the parts of the brain that process emotions don’t develop normally in autistic people. Further research has shown that some of the long-distance circuits that connect different regions in the brain may fail to connect. For example, one person may be sensitive to fluorescent lights, and another person may be sickened by strong smells. One individual may be more socially and emotionally related than another. It all depends upon which circuits connect.
The autism spectrum is very broad and ranges from severe autism, where the child never learns to speak, to mild Asperger Syndrome, where the child has no obvious speech delay. Doctors and caregivers don’t often diagnose children with Asperger’s until they have problems socializing with other children.
An Asperger’s child may play alone and have few friends. Some individuals with Asperger’s are very intelligent; many eccentric, famous scientists, musicians, and artists probably had Asperger’s. The spectrum is continuous, ranging from a person who needs lifetime help with basic living skills to a college professor. The great variability on the autism spectrum may be due to the extent of the abnormalities in the brain.

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