Autism is a developmental disability, a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication. People with autism often display restricted and repetitive behavior. The first signs of the disorder are usually visible before the child is three year old. The affected person loses its normal ability to interact and communicate with the others. There is no certain known single cause of autism but the prevalence of this disorder had raised to one in every 110 births in the United States and almost one in 70 boys. Approximately 1.5 million Americans are living with this disorder.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, with a great number of signs and symptoms, and it affects each individual differently and to varying degrees. Depending on the specific set of symptoms, we can distinguish three main types of autism: Kanner's syndrome or classic autism, Asperger's disorder and Rett’s syndrome.
Dr. Leo Kanner who was researching a group of children in the 1940s that seemed to be exhibiting the symptoms of schizophrenia, names Kanner’s syndrome, or the classic autism. What Dr. Kanner described in his research was the most severe type of autism characterized by difficulties in spoken language as well as non-verbal communication, repetitive play, extreme hypersensitivity to smells, light and noise, and very limited emotional connection with everybody else. Children with classic autism may never learn to speak and they usually insist that everything is in the same order. It seems like these children stick to the routine and cannot cope with a single change.
Asperger's disorder is a milder variant of autistic disorder. This is the most frequent type of autism characterized by inability to communicate with others and maintain normal social interactions. People affected by Asperger's disorder also do not like changes in their routines and they often seem to be obsessive-compulsive. This type of autism is distinguished by pronounced social isolation and eccentric behavior, accompanied with obvious learning disabilities, problems with motor skills and sensitivity to light and sounds. On the other hand, people with
Asperger's disorder usually has one extremely narrow area of interest where they display their brilliant intelligence. Some examples these unusual interests are: cars, trains, French Literature, door knobs, hinges, cappuccino, meteorology, astronomy or history.
Rett’s syndrome is a special kind of autism that affects girls almost exclusively. This is the most severe and the rarest type of autism characterized by small hands and feet and a deceleration of the rate of head growth. People with Rett’s syndrome have repetitive hand movements, gastrointestinal disorders and severe seizures. Typically, people with Rett’s syndrome have no verbal skills and about half of all patients cannot even walk.