Autism – An Elusive Enigma

An analysis of autism, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder, focusing on the difficulties of clearly defining this disorder.

This paper examines autism, describing it as a multi-faceted, complex and enigmatic disorder. The paper discusses the details of the disorder and the methods available for diagnosis. The many different signs and symptoms of autism are outlined. The paper illustrates how the broad range of symptoms and lack of clear-cut inclusion and exclusion criteria allow for misdiagnoses and confusion with other disorders. The paper presents the theories of the etiology of autism. The paper concludes with a claim that while there is some evidence of a biological correlation or genetic and familial link, this evidence is far from conclusive and at present has not yielded any practical treatment options.
“Autism (also known as pervasive developmental disorder) is defined by the Columbia encyclopedia as “A rare neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the inability to relate to and perceive the environment in a realistic manner”. Its onset is defined to occur in infancy or early childhood, generally before age thirty months, and males are affected four times more often then females. Symptoms include impairment in social interaction, fixation on inanimate objects, an inability to communicate normally, and resistance to changes in the daily routine (Columbia University Press 1993).”