Autism and other Autism Spectrum Disorders PDF Print E-mail
Issues - Issue #0
Written by José Salomão Schwartzman   
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 21:00

by José Salomão Schwartzman

Infantile Autism has been first described by Kanner in 1943 when he identified childrenpresenting communication, behavior and social interaction disorders, and he distinguishedthis as unique and not included in the group of children with mental disability.

He proposedthe name Autism to emphasize the serious impairment in social interaction that was so visiblefrom the beginning of the life of those patients. He made clear that, although the cause of suchcondition was unknown, he believed that an adverse environment would be responsible forit.

On the same paper, however, he stated that, in some cases, the disorder occurred so earlythat there would not be time enough to make an intervention in the environment concerningthe child, so that there might be a biological etiology.

A year after Kanner description, anotherAustrian physician, Asperger, described children similar to the ones described by his peer,but those children apparently were smarter and did not present a significant delay in speechdevelopment. These symptoms have been named, later, as Asperger Syndrome.

As time went by, and knowledge about this condition increased, the term Global or PervasiveDevelopmental disorders (PDD) has been created, which included, besides Autism andAsperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not OtherwiseSpecified (PDD-NOS). Rett Syndrome is completely different from the others, which will besoon excluded from the group.

More recently another term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD )has been used to include Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder -Not Otherwise Specified.

Most recent statistics, carried out in several parts of the world, referto prevalence of PDD as 1 per 160 individuals, a number higher than the ones mentioned inprevious decades, and raised the assumption that we were facing an autism outbreak.

Themost probable explanation for this increase in the number of individuals is the fact that peoplehave been accepting more such a condition, and above all, due to a broader scope of PDDconcept. Another significant data is that PDD affects more boys than girls; the rate is 4 boysper 1 girl. Today we know that causes for PDD are multifactor, depending on genetics andenvironmental aspects.

José Salomão Schwartzman is neurology pediatrician, holding a PhD in Neurology, andprofessor for the Specialization Program in Development Disorder at Mackenzie PresbyterianUniversity. He is also a scientific editor for Temas sobre Desenvolvimento Magazine.

Autism and other Autism Spectrum Disorders
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