Autism spectrum disorder refers to a clinical disorder whereby children mainly from two years of age start exhibiting unique behavioral characteristics comprising of difficulty in speech, low social interaction, high concentration on specific hobbies, habits or objects. Affected children hardly initiate conversations, friendship, exhibit little or no participation in enjoyment with others, noticeable lack of empathy. The children usually have problem understanding social changes. Some have repeated conversations that are usually self-centered. The children also have limited expression of emotional feelings to others. Schewean and Saklofske (1999) argue that “most characteristic features of the disorder are the intense interests, hobbies, and fascinations shown by the children” (Schewean and Saklofske, 1999, p. 277).
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Autism and Asperger’s syndrome
Some symptoms of Autism and Asperger’s syndrome are likely to go unnoticed by parents mainly due to their similarities either to other mental conditions or the symptoms may be taken for special abilities and interests. I agree with Darold (2004) on his definition of the symptoms “intellectual abilities which were very scattered and highly contradictory” (Darold, 2004, p.1); exceptional memory; and a remarkable calculating ability, mastery of negative numbers and fractions as a “special interest” (Darold, 2004, p. 1). In this instance parents may not differentiate the syndrome with special abilities and this may cause lots of concern to the parents (Darold, 2004).
Sometimes there is wrong diagnosis where some symptoms such as limited socialization and speech difficulties are taken for depression or other mental related problem. I think that since we often take speech, language and socialization intelligence to infer to natural intelligence then making the correct conclusion may be very tricky and an issue of concern for the parents.
I agree to the facts made by Ghandirian that Autism and Asperger’s syndrome are related to high levels of intelligence which he gives examples of people in the history that have exhibited extreme mental intelligence such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and many others may have exhibited at least some symptoms related to Asperger’s syndrome at early stages of their lives “solitary life, poor social interaction, and withdrawn behavior can be observed in many who have been deeply involved in research projects” (Ghadirian, 2009, p. 98). On these basis Parents may find it hard to differentiate between highly intelligent kids with the ones exhibiting genuine symptoms (Ghadirian, 2009, p. 98).
Another reason for concern for parents is the fact that many cases begin at a very early age of one to three years of age. Since this usually an important stage in a child’s development and parents might think that the behaviors they are portraying will go with time as the child grows and thus the syndrome remains unclear until much later when the symptoms persist and become more evident.
Since Autism spectrum disorders are believed to be caused by neurological malfunction (Darold, 2004) then according to my opinion parents may be very concerned about the condition and especially due to its expression as more of a behavioral problem and may try to link the problem to their failure in parenting. This may make them to try to change their parenting styles as solution to the problem which may not yield the desired results.
Autism spectrum disorders present symptoms that may be tricky for the parents to correctly diagnose the condition. The symptoms which are usually behavioral are sometimes mistaken for other disorders such as depression, hyperactivity, and extreme intelligence, low levels of intelligence, mental retardation and socialization problems. This causes a lot of concern for parents due to either the contrasting symptoms or the symptoms being similar to other disorders. In other cases the parents might relate the behavioral disorders to poor parenting. However it is advised that parents seek help from medical experts who will also be in a position to advice them on how best to handle their affected children.
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Darold, A. (2004). Asperger’s Disorder and Savant Syndrome. Wisconsin Medical Society. Web.
Ghrandirian, A. (2009). Creative Dimension of Suffering. New York, NY: Cengage.
Schwean, M and Saklofske, K. (1999). Handbook of psychosocial characteristics of exceptional children. New York, NY: Springer.