In the year 1912, a Swiss psychiatrist named Eugene Bleuler was the very first to identify a particular pattern in schizophrenia afflicted individuals who seemed to be “self-absorbed.” It was at this point when Dr. Bleuler labeled this particular form of self-absorbed behavior as autism, and became the first to coin the term. While this is true, he was not the first to identify and recognize autism as being a completely different and separate entity from schizophrenia as well as other mental illnesses.
It was not until the year 1943 when autism became its own specific
condition. An Australian-American psychologist for children, Leo
Kanner, was the very first to recognize the condition of autism as its
own individual mental disorder. Kanner was able to identify and label
similar characteristics and conditions in a group of approximately 11
children. These children exhibited symptoms such as sensitivity to
stimulants such as sound or food, having trouble with spontaneous tasks
or events, and a noticeable lack of average intellect. Once he had
properly observed these children he had diagnosed them with having early
An Austrian scientist and pediatrician Hans Asperger also described,
in detail, his trials and tribulations with a group of autistic children
in 1944. A great portion of the signs and symptoms Kanner’s children
where exhibiting also happened in Asperger’s group as well. Asperger
made great note of their clumsy motor skills as well as the difference
in speech. While Kanner’s group seemed to lack necessary conversational
and language skills, Asperger’s group spoke like little adults. Today
children who have high functioning autism are generally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
From the 1970’s and pushing forward, autism research and studies
began to pick up pace rapidly. Both education and therapy for autistic
children are still in development today, as research has found that
autism is far more complex than any scientist had originally thought.
This complexity then led researchers to the conclusion that there are
various causes for autism, as the condition is highly complex in the
TYPES OF AUTISM:
A particular type of pervasive developmental disorder, generally
characterized by the issues in the development of social skills and
behaviors, is known as Asperger Disorder. Many doctors, in the past,
have misdiagnosed those children that have Asperger Disorder as being
autistic or other disorders similar to autism. The similarities between
both Asperger’s Disorder and autism are there, but there are
significant differences that doctors sometimes overlook. Because of
this misdiagnosis and the closeness in both the conditions, it is
important for those children suspected of having Asperger Disorder or
even autism be carefully monitored and evaluated in order to provide the
proper diagnosis so the right treatments can be carried out.
Generally those children who have Asperger’s Disorder
tend to function at a much higher level than those children who are
diagnosed with autism. Those with Asperger Disorder commonly possess a
normal intelligence level, while those who suffer from autism tend to
lack the proper development in language skills, or even motor skills.
Children who are diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder use their speech at
the proper ages, although their patterns in speech may differ from those
of a normal child. Many parents or other adults find the children that
have Asperger Disorder use speech that is odd for each individual
child’s particular age group.
While the cause and root of Asperger’s Disorder is still a mystery to
doctors, there is strong research which suggests that the condition of
Asperger Disorder is genetic and may run in families. Those children
who suffer from Asperger Disorder are also at a risk for a variety of
other psychiatric issues such as depression, attention deficit disorder,
obsessive compulsive disorders, as well as schizophrenia.
There are many child and adolescent psychiatric professionals that
have received the necessary training in order to properly evaluate
children who may have a disorder such as Asperger’s Disorder. These
particular individuals are also able to work one on one with families in
order to design and obtain the most effective and appropriate treatment
plans available for each particular child. A common and effective
method of treatment for those children who suffer from Asperger’s
Disorder includes a combination of special education, behavior
modification, psychotherapy as well as a strong support system. There
are even those cases where children with Asperger’s Disorder may benefit
greatly from a medication regime.
The overall outlook for those children who have Asperger’s Disorder
rather than autism is much more promising. Because of their normal
intelligence levels and raised levels of functioning, many of these
children are projected to not only finish high school but also seek out a
higher education in a great number of cases. While the issues with
social interaction and being aware of their social surroundings may be
difficult, those children with Asperger’s Disorder are able to learn to
cope with their condition far more easily than those with autism. It is
not uncommon for people and children with Asperger’s Disorder to
develop long lasting relationships with both family members and
friends. Even those with Asperger Disorder can lead a very normal life.
CHILDHOOD DISINTEGRATIVE DISORDER:
Childhood disintegrative disorder is a condition where children have a
completely normal development until around the ages of 2 to 4, and then
seem to demonstrate or experience a dramatic increase in the loss of
communication, social, and other skill sets that they may have
acquired. Whether the other skills include items such as language,
motor skills, or non-verbal communication vary from child to child.
Unfortunately those scientists researching childhood disintegrative
disorder have yet to determine the cause of the disorder.
Childhood disintegrative disorder is very similar to autism; many
doctors say childhood disintegrative disorder is a less detrimental form
of autism. Once the child has started a normal growth, the noticeable
side effects of childhood disintegrative disorder can be seen between
the ages of 4-10, where the regression is suddenly much stronger. In
some cases the symptoms of childhood disintegrative disorder have been
so severe even the child begins to voice concern over what is
happening. This is most scary for the child, as the aggressive
regression is confusing and often times leads to a more hostile child at
There are various signs and symptoms to watch out for in way of
childhood disintegrative disorder. The normal growth happens up until
the age of approximately two years of age, and then continues to
progress up until the age of ten. Each and every skill the child has
acquired may be lessened or completely lost all together. There are six
distinct functional areas where the child will lose such skills. The
skills they lose are as follows expressive language skills (basically
being able to produce a speech and communicate a message), receptive
language skills (the understanding of language understanding and
listening what is communicated), social skills and self-care skills, the
control over bowel and bladder, play skills, and motor skills. The lack
of normal function or deterioration also occurs in at least in one of
these two areas Social interaction, communication, and repetitive
behavior and interest patterns.
The causes of childhood disintegrative disorder are still unknown,
childhood disintegrative disorder surfaces from within days or weeks
while in other cases it matures over a longer period of time. A Clinic
report specifies that: “Comprehensive medical and neurological
examinations in children diagnosed with childhood disintegrative
disorder occasionally uncovers a fundamental medical or neurological
cause. Although the happening of epilepsy is higher in children with
childhood disintegrative disorder, experts don’t know if epilepsy plays a
major role in the causing of the disorder. Childhood disintegrative
disorder is linked to other conditions such as lipid storage, subacute
sclerosing panecepphaliyis , tuberus sclerosis. Although the causes are
unknown childhood disintegrative disorder is very well linked to other
There is no treatment for childhood disintegrative disorder. The loss
of language and skills related to social interaction and self-care
stand rather severe. The affected children face long-lasting
disabilities in definite areas and are required to be in long term care.
Treatment of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder includes both behavior
therapy and medications.
Watching for the symptoms for childhood disintegrative disorder can
beneficial to both the child and the parent to try and help and get
treatment for this horrible disease.
CLASSIC AUTISM: (Nicholas)
Classic Autism, Autistic Disorder or Kanner’s Syndrome
Since the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, studies in regard to Kanner’s
Syndrome in both Australia as well as America at the same time. The
unusual behaviors in children were somewhat of a puzzle to two
scientists. Unknown to them, they were both coming to the same
conclusions but they were also using the same words in way of describing
the happenings and behaviors of the children. Ironically enough they
were both using the same word, autism, even though the degree of
behaviors they were both seeing differed vastly in way of severity.
The scientist known as Dr. Leo Kanner dubbed the disorder he was
researching Kanner syndrome, otherwise known as autism. While it is
more common to hear the term autism or autistic, Kanner Syndrome is
still a widely used name today. In the 1940’s, Dr. Kanner was
conducting research with a large group of children many thought were
exhibiting the signs and symptoms of the condition known as
schizophrenia. Delving much deeper into his research he found that the
children were not actually showing signs of schizophrenia, but something
entirely different. Autism was the term used to affiliate the
conditions with the new disorder he had discovered.
To this day, Kanner’s breakthrough in way of autism and its signs or
symptoms hold true today. The earliest conclusions of his research are
also still true to this day. Throughout the 1950’s and the 1960’s
children were being properly diagnosed with autism due to Kanner’s
earlier discoveries. A research paper on his works was being published
throughout the world, in English, making it easier for more to learn
about this new condition. Due to this work, more children around the
world were being treated properly for their conditions rather than being
labeled as something they were not, receiving detrimental treatments.
There are many indications of autism early on in a child’s life.
First is the delayed speech or even lack of speech altogether. This is
possibly the largest sign of autism or Kanner’s syndrome. It is a very
strong indicator. Next are repetitive movements of body parts. Whether
the part of the body is the head, arms, or feet, repetitive and same
movement motions are another strong indication of autism.
Later on in a child’s life if they experience impaired social skills,
the child may be slightly or even completely autistic. They tend to
shy away from those they are completely unfamiliar with and even have a
hard time socializing with those close to them. In line with this,
having a limited interest in activities or playing with toys is another
sign of autism. Children who are autistic often show these signs
quickly on in life, so it is easy to spot them.
Understanding the background as well as the signs of autism is
extremely important. There is no doubt that autism is affecting a large
portion of today’s youth, and is something that should be taken very
PERVASIVE DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER:(PDD)
A pervasive developmental disorder is a diagnosis which is
categorized by a group of disorders that have delays in the development
of both socialization and communication skills. There are many cases
where parents are able to identify and notice symptoms very early on
throughout the infant life of a child. While this is sometimes the
case, the pervasive developmental disorders are most noticeable in
children between the ages of three and five years old. It is important
to immediately seek out medical attention if one notices any signs and
symptoms of a pervasive developmental disorder in their child at any
There are various prominent signs and symptoms which may occur that
are most noticeable when attempting to identify pervasive developmental
disorder. First and foremost there is language. A child will either
have a loss of or a lack of understanding language. This is the most
common and sought after sign in way of pervasive developmental disorders
as it is the most easy to identify. The lack of understanding may not
be large, and often times can be subtle at first, but it is a huge
indicator that there may be a pervasive developmental disorder.
Some other signs and symptoms parents should be aware of include
repetitive body movements or behaviors, unusual choices in way of
playing with toys and objects, difficulty adjusting to new environments,
difficulty socializing or relating to people, as well as being
uncomfortable with large and busy events. Autism is the most studied
and widely known form of pervasive developmental disorders, and has a
variety of similar conditions very close to it. Some of the most
commonly known pervasive developmental disorders include Rett’s
Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Asperger’s Syndrome.
The various forms of pervasive developmental disorder lead to children
varying in way of skills, intelligence, and behavioral levels. There
are those children who do not speak at all, and there are those who
possess a relatively normal speech pattern. Those impairments that are
seen in most every case include repetitive forms of play and limited
social skills; strange response to sensory information such as loud
noises and light are also common.
For each of the pervasive developmental disorders there are no known
cures. While there are no cures, there are forms of treatment that work
depending on their severity and how often the treatments are carried
out. Proper forms of treatment often aid the children enough to lead
normal lives in a social and school setting with the proper support.
Those who have severe cases of pervasive developmental disorders often
need regular one on one care and attention in order to function properly
in larger settings.
Currently vast amounts of research are being carried out in way of
pervasive developmental disorders to find cures and possible prevention
methods to protect against these disorders. Neurology has made vast
strides in understanding how to properly diagnose and treat the various d
pervasive developmental disorders known throughout the medical fields.
*RETTS SYNDROME: (It will no longer be included as an Autism Spectrum Disorder when the new DSM comes out in 2013. RETTS Syndrome is a genetic disorder.)
A neurological development disorder, seen mostly in girls, is known
as Rett’s Syndrome. Rett’s Syndrome is categorized by the normal
development of the brain followed by slower development, loss of
coordination or hand use all together, distinguishable hand movements,
having issues with walking, intellectual disabilities, and even
seizures. The individual who discovered this particular syndrome is
known as Dr. Andreas Rett from Austria, who had first brought this
disorder into the medical world through a journal article in the year
1966. This disorder was not recognized until 1983 when a Swedish
researcher, Dr. Bengt Hagberg, also wrote an article on it.
Those children who are diagnosed with Rett’s Syndrome generally
exhibit symptoms similar to those of autism. Some of the most common
symptoms found in those who have Rett’s Syndrome include items such as
walking on toes, issues with sleeping, having a difficult time chewing,
grinding of the teeth, growth is slowed, seizures, hyperventilation,
apnea, cognitive disabilities as well as a wide-based gait.
With Rett’s Syndrome there are various stages to this disorder; four
in total. The first stage, known as an early onset, starts between the
ages of 6 and 18 months old. Many doctors overlook this stage due to
the disorder being vague at times. Both parents and doctors may not
instantaneously notice the subtle slow of development happening with the
child. Whether it is less eye contact from the infant or they seem to
be uninterested in their toys, it is not enough to draw attention to
this particular diagnosis. This particular stage generally lasts only a
few months but is able to continue on for greater than one year.
Stage two is the destructive stage known as the rapid destructive
stage. This generally takes place between ages 1 and 4 lasting for any
number of weeks or months. The signs of this stage or generally loss of
movement in hands or the child’s language skills; hand gestures such as
clapping, tapping, or washing then moving hands to mouth are key points
at the early stages
Stage three is the plateau stage, also known as the pseudo-stationary
stage. This general occurs between the ages of 2 and 10 sometimes
lasing for many years. Both motor issues as well as seizures are
prominent during this particular stage. On the other hand, there will
be a significant improvement in behavior such as less irritability,
crying, or autism-like symptoms.
Stage four is known as the motor deterioration stage lasting for
either years or even decades. The curving of the spine, even more
reduced mobility, weak muscles, spasticity, or rigidity are all signs
and symptoms of this stage.
There is currently no cure for Rett’s Syndrome, and is generally
treated by focusing on the management of the symptoms exhibited by the
individual. Generally there is medication needed for breathing, as well
as regular monitoring for other possible illnesses such as scoliosis
and heart abnormalities. Despite how difficult it may be at times,
individuals with Rett’s Syndrome can live well into their late 40’s,
50’s, and even beyond.