Autism has been known for about 70 years; looking back, however, it had been around earlier without our consent. Our knowledge, cognition of autism has been expanding in the past decades and still keeps expanding.
Autism is caused by a congenital development disorder of the brain – mostly caused by genetic factors and partly by environmental effects harming the nervous system.
The developmental deviance – in different amount and form – always affects the areas of mutual communication and social behavior, and goes together with the rigidity of cognition and behavior, and different perception of environmental stimulus.
- An autistic person finds it hard to socialize, perceives others’ emotions inadequately, does not understand social expectations, and often insists on accustomed routines and sameness.
- Sometimes they do not learn to speak, or their speech is often unconventional (e.g. echoes, uses irregular pitch, sticks to one topic).
- People living with autism interpret and process physical (taste, sound, smell, visual and tactile) and social stimulus in an extraordinary way, which makes their cogitation, answers and behavior differ from the ordinary.
Autism can occur at any level of cognitive skills and, in case of a part of those living with autism, it is combined with mental disabilities.
Autism occurs in various development phases and behaviors; the modern concept (autism spectrum disorder) expresses this variegation. Every person living with autism is different; their behavior can extremely vary from others’.
Autism is not a rare state: the occurrence frequency is close to 1%, meaning that every hundredth person lives with a form of this syndrome. It is four times frequenter in case of boys than girls. In Hungary, almost 100 000 people live with this developmental disorder, currently about one fifth is diagnosed.
Autism – as far as we know today – is incurable; it affects people’s pliancy to their environment and their whole life – even in adulthood. Most cases of autism can be recognized early, at around the age of two. Early diagnosis offers the chance for early help, which can lessen the consequential difficulty and may help the fullest possible development.
Difficulties originating from autism lead to specific needs, but in an environment that is suitable for their capabilities and accepts their personalities, with pedagogical and psychological methods tailored to the individuals, we can reach a significant development and the expressed improvement of the quality of life.