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Autism Essay, Research Paper


Autism is one of the mental, emotional, and behavior disorders that

appears in early childhood. Autism, or autistic disorder, almost always

develops within the first 3 years of a child’s life. Children and adolescents

with autism cannot interact normally with other people. Autism thus affects

many aspects of their development.

Children with and adolescents with autism typically: -have a difficult

time communicating with others -exhibit very repetitious behaviors (like

rocking back and forth, head banging, or touching or twirling objects); -have a

limited range of interests and activities; and -may became upset at a small

change in their environment or daily routine.

Although symptoms of autistic disorder sometimes can be seen in early

infancy, the condition can appear after months of normal development. In most

cases, it is not possible to identify any specific event that triggers autistic

disorder. About 7 in every 10 children and adolescents with autistic disorder

also have mental retardation or other problems with their brain function or


Recent studies estimate that as many as 14 children out of 10,000 may

have autism or a related condition. About 125,000 Americans are affected by

these disorders, and nearly 4,000 families across the country have two or more

children with autism. Three times as many boys as girls have autism.

Researchers are still unsure about what causes autism. Several studies

suggest that autistic disorder might be caused by a combination of biological

factors, including exposure to a virus before birth, a problem with the immune

system, or genetics.

Scientists also have identified chemicals in the brain and the immune

system that may be involved in autistic disorder. As a normal brain develops,

the level of serotonin, a chemical found in the brain, declines. In some

children with autistic disorder, however, the serotonin levels do not decline.

Now researchers are trying to determine whether this happens only to children

with autism and why, and whether other factors are involved.

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