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Arizbeth Zavala

EDU 203
Cause of disability:

• Very complex
• No known single cause
– No cure
• Research suggests ASD develops from a
combination of:
– Abnormal brain chemistry and
– Genetic factors
– environmental influences
• Neuroimaging studies show structural
abnormalities of the brain in individuals
with ASD
• ASD is not the result of abnormalities in
just one specific location of the brain-
multiple regions are involved:
• Cerebral cortex
• Amygdala
• Basal ganglia
• Hippocampus
• Corpus callous
• Cerebellum
• Research tells us that autism runs in families
• Changes in certain genes increase the risk of autism
• In small percentage of instances, ASD are caused by
fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis

• Research shows that certain environmental influences

may further increase autism risk in people who are
genetically predisposed to the disorder
• Some influences include:
• Drug use
• Food (GMOs)
• Pregnancy complications (premature birth)
• Paternal age
• It was believed there was a link between
thimerosal pediatric vaccines (which
contain mercury) and the onset of ASD
• The connection between vaccinating
children and autism spectrum disorders
has been proved false because vaccines
developed after 2001 no longer contain
• Original research study was retracted by
medical journal The Lancet
Intellectual Functioning: • Many individuals with
ASD exhbit some
degree of intellectual

• About 10% demonstrate

extraordinary skills and
talents in areas such as:
math, memory, art, or
• These individuals
were originally
described as “Idiot
• Described as mild, moderate, or severe savants”
Refers to the notion that many individuals
with ASD do not understand that other
people have their own plans, thoughts,
and points of views.

They also have difficulty understanding

other people's beliefs, attitudes, and
Deficits include:
• Significant impairment in the use of multiple non-verbal
behaviors like:
– eye-to-eye gaze,
– facial expressions,
– body posture,
– gestures
• Failure to develop age-appropriate peer relationships
• Lack of spontaneous sharing with others
• Absence of social or emotional exchange
• Often does not point or show objects of interest to others
• Shows little or no expressed pleasure in interaction
• Lacks coordinated gaze

Joint attention: a social communication deficit common in individuals

with ASD and it is the failure to respond to a gaze or pointing by
another person.
• Individual shows relatively
little interest in others unless
• Difficulties with social he or she needs help.
interaction are often
devastating to individuals
with ASD

• Social impairments
in persons with ASD
significantly affect
their involvement
with others in
vocational, and social

• Individuals fail to • Even the highest functioning

take social norms or individuals often experience
the listener’s significant difficulties in
feelings into developing friendships and
account relating to other
• Estimated that 25-30% of children
with ASD never develop language Deficits include:
• Delay in receptive and expressive
• Improper use of pronouns
• Marked impairment in
conversational skills
• Stereotyped and repetitive use of
• Echolalia or “parroting” speech

• Children with ASD are often

“speech may not be functional or fluent
self-absorbed and seem to exist
and may lack communicative intent.”
in a private world
• restricted patter of interest
• Fixed interest in abnormal degrees
• Strict adherence to nonfunctional rituals or routines
• Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms
• Preoccupation with parts of an object
Individuals with ASD may:
• Play with toys in unintended fashion
• Be rigid about routines or object placements
• Eat few foods or only foods with a certain texture
• Smell food
• Be insensitive to pain
• Be unaware of danger
• Show unusual attachment to inanimate objects
• Exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking, finger licking, spinning
Associated Characteristics of Individuals with ASD

Areas of Concern: Behaviors:

Concentration and Attention • Hyperactivity

• Short attention span
• Impulsivity
• Selective attention
Anxiety Disorders • Self-injurious behaviors
• Excessive scratching or rubbing
• Limiting diet to a few foods
• Eating inedible items
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Affective Disorders • Abnormalities of mood or affect (giggle for no reason)
• Sleeping problems
• Bed-wetting
• Depression, suicidal ideation
Learning Difficulties • Poor reading comprehension
• Difficulty generalizing skills or information
• Inadequate receptive/expressive language skills
• Medical tests CANNOT diagnose ASD The diagnosis of ASD should include
two steps:
• Physicians look for behavioral • 1st step- developmental screening
symptoms to make a diagnosis • designed to identify children
• Symptoms may be noticeable who should receive a more
within the first few months of thorough evaluation
life or may appear anytime • 2nd step-surveillance
prior to age 3 • health care professionals
monitor children who may
• Medical examinations are helpful in have a developmental
ruling out specific disabilities like disability
hearing or vision loss.
A child suspected of having ASD should
be evaluated by multidisciplinary team
• Neurologist
• Psychologist
• Developmental pediatrician
• Speech language pathologist
• Special educator
Autism Spectrum Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved November 26, 2017, from

Gargiulo, R. M. (2015). Special education in contemporary society: an introduction to

exceptionality. Los Angeles: Sage.

Edelson, S. (n.d.). Theory of Mind. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from


What Causes Autism. (n.d.). Retrieved November 26, 2017, from


What is Autism. (n.d.). Retrieved November 26, 2017, from http://www.autism-society.org/