Definition of Autism

Essay by megg333@hotmail.comUniversity, Master'sB+, January 2008

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Define and Describe Autism from a Clinical Standpoint.

Autism is a disorder of perplexing nature that enivitably has impairments that last into adulthood for the afflicted and lifelong implications for their families. (`Asgeirsd`ottir et al, 2006, p.1361) Autism is not only difficult to understand clinically and behaviorally in relation to the person with the disability but also diagnostically, in terms of inconsistency of classification. This paper intends to investigate the history of autism, explain the currently accepted clinical definition and description of the disorder and the recognized related condition along the autism spectrum disorder or ASD, Asperger's disorder, and finally to attempt to explore the changeability of terms associated with autism. (Volkmar et al, 2005, p.2)Autism has an interesting and varied history, reaching farther back, as some researchers have theorized than the pioneers who first published accounts of the disorder; Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. (Frith, 2003, p.5) The inquiry into the history of autism leads one to believe that the disorder has been around undiagnosed for centuries before.

Uta Frith (2003) reflects on cases of people with the probability of having some degree of the disorder, throughout history. She discusses, among others a Franciscan monk, Brother Juniper whom in his various encounters with fellow brethren and community, proved to be a person that lacked the ability to be aware that others had their own thoughts about things and occurances. This is indicative of the essence of autism as claimed by Baron-Cohen et al (2006). They assert that children with autism "have delays in the development of theory of mind", (p.716) which is what Frith is drawing attention to above. Namely, the inability to comprehend the idea that people have their own thoughts and emotions outside of oneself.

Further exploration into the historical roots of autism is cited by...