Autism is a cognitive disorder affecting approximately
one out of every 150 children in the United States.
Providing a complete definition of autism can
be as vexing as the actual ailment, since so much
research has yet to be done, but the core symptoms
of autism include deficits in social relationships,
delayed and abnormal language and a pattern of
repetitive behaviors and restricted interests.
factors make autism one of the most challenging
disorders to afflict children. An infant with
autism may not look at his parent’s face
or respond to a smile. Autistic toddlers may not
use spoken words, or they may simply echo what
they hear. Even if speech is normal, an autistic
child is likely to have trouble making friends
due to dominating fixations and/or a complete
lack of interest in other people.
manifests itself in differing degrees of severity,
with some children growing up to lead normal,
independent lives, and others requiring constant
care and supervision throughout their lifetimes.
As seen in the popular film “Rainman”
a small percentage of people with autism display
savant abilities, allowing them to perform seemingly
superhuman acts of calculation and recall. But
for most who suffer from autism, it offers only
a profound set of limitations.
the biggest challenge regarding autism is the
mystery surrounding the causes, treatment and
prevention of the disorder. With diagnoses experiencing
a tenfold spike in the last twenty years, answers
have never been more desperately needed.
hope for real progress in treatment of autism
lies in research to discover the basic causes.
These causes are suspected to be biological, but
the exact nature of the causal pathway is unknown.
Over the years, unsubstantiated claims of miracle
cures have continued to lead to the same dead
ends. But in spite of these missteps, progress
is being made, with legitimate research continually
expanding the body of knowledge regarding autism.
strides include research that has found the brain's
fusiform face area, the control tower for face
recognition, is under active in people with autism.
The more severe the disorder, the more disabled
the fusiform. And recently, the FDA approved the
first drug to be used exclusively to treat autism.
Many children with autism are now benefiting from
special education and behavioral training. But
still, there is no effective treatment for the
this reason, the Utah Autism Foundation was formed
to give researchers the funding they need to make
continual strides towards furthering treatment
and prevention of autism, by finding the elusive
causes of the disorder.