Ψ A child with special needs: A child for whom learning new skills and developing friendships are hampered by a psychological or physical disorder.
Ψ Autism is a disorder characterized by an inability or unwillingness to communicate with others, poor social skills, and diminished imagination.
Ψ Autism is the most common of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, affecting an estimated 1 in 150 births (updated June 2007). This means that as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form of autism. Autism is more prevalent by 10 times, than it was in the 70's.
Ψ Asperger syndrome is a disorder in which a person masters verbal communication but has unusual difficulty with social perceptions and skills (also called high-functioning autism).
Ψ Autism is multifactorial and genes are one of the factors; boys are more likely to suffer from this disease than are girls.
Ψ Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder, as its manifestations change markedly with age; deficiencies appear in the three areas:
• communication ability
• social skills
• imaginative play
Ψ By age 1 or 2, deficiencies appear in the first two areas; by preschool years, the third becomes apparent. During the play years, many continue to be mute, while other engage exclusively in echolalia (ekow'leyleeu) speech
(Echolalia is the repetition of vocalizations made by another person.). Autistic children avoid spontaneous interaction; rather, they engage in repetitive movements or compulsive play.
Ψ In childhood & adolescence, autistic individuals appear too lack a theory of mind do not understand the emotions & thoughts of others. Most score low on IQ tests, but may show isolated areas of remarkable (savant) skills.
Ψ As autistic children grow older, symptoms vary widely; their strongest cognitive skills are in abstract reasoning whereas their weakest are in social cognition. Many learn to express themselves, becoming quite fluent by adulthood if given intensive behavioral training.