Autism is a neurological disorder that is usually characterized by repetitive behaviors, impaired communication and impaired social interactions.This disorder is usually diagnosed in childhood and the affected individuals have to live with it forever as there is no cure for the disorder. However, treatments are available and these help to control the symptoms. This is important because some of the signs and symptoms are harmful such as when affected children cause bodily harm to themselves to show that they are not happy (Corbier, 2005).The development of children with autism does not follow the typical pattern for child development where the affected children lag behind others of their age in terms of development. In addition, these children seem to be out of touch with reality. The signs and symptoms of autism can be mild or severe and there is need for this problem to be understood so that the children can be given the special attention they need.Autism is a neurological disorder and therefore has a neurologic basis.
Autism develops following problems in regulation of brain cells during early development. This dysregulation is genetically determined and it affects growth of support brain tissue and neurons (Corbier, 2005). This problem in brain cell regulation usually happens at a time when the future integration of the neurocognitive functions is being determined. The result is that the brain cells are miswired leading to overgrowth of cells in some brain sections and undergrowth of cells in other brain areas (Corbier, 2005).These problems in growth of brain are the causes of the clinical manifestations of this disorder. Most of the children who have autism experience seizures and this helps to confirm that autism has a neurologic basis. This is because seizures are a distinctive characteristic of cortical brain dysfunction and so the seizures in autism are also related to a brain dysfunction (Corbier, 2005).To determine the exact part of brain that is affected, neurologists are guided by the signs and symptoms.
For example if a child can talk but has impaired comprehension, a neurologist suspects that the temporal lobe might have suffered stroke (Corbier, 2005).There are several signs and symptoms that are associated with autism. These are manifested in form of functional deficits and behavioral symptoms and mostly they point to the affected part of the brain. The behavioral symptoms of autism result from differences in thinking and cognition of the world.These behavioral symptoms can be noticed in the first two years of life (Perez & Comi, 2007).
Parents of children with autism say that the first thing they notice is that from a very young age their children have problems understanding the world (Perez & Comi, 2007). Some of the common behavioral symptoms in early life include the failure of a child to look directly at another individual’s face, pointing or showing gestures, delayed pretend play, failure to follow another person’s gaze, and failure of a child to show any response when their name is called out (Perez & Comi, 2007).Normally developing children usually like looking into human face and they also turn when their name is called out. When a child shows delay in developing these skills there is a strong possibility that the child is autistic.
Autistic individuals also demonstrate functional deficits. These include sensorimotor deficits, face perception and social deficits, cognitive deficits, and deficits in language, speech and communication (Chauhan & Brown, 2010).Among individuals with autism, the language function varies where some individuals show language deficits such as mutism while others can talk fluently. Verbal abilities among autistic individuals are usually accompanied by either language and communicative deficits within the social context or errors related to word meaning (Chauhan & Brown, 2010). These deficits in language function are related to abnormalities in the following cortical brain areas: Wernicke’s area, gyrus angularis, and Broca’s area (Chauhan & Brown, 2010).
Another functional deficit is in face perception which is experienced by all autistic individuals where the affected persons have problems in use of eye contact, facial expression and they show abnormalities in social motivation and social reciprocity. Some of these social deficits include identification of individuals and processing of faces.The fusiform gyrus is believed to be the brain area affected that causes these deficits (Chauhan & Brown, 2010). Another functional deficit is related to impairment of both the gross and fine motor functions and these include unusual posturing and body rocking (Chauhan & Brown, 2010).