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Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology

Autism presents itself as a range of several disorders sharing the primary symptoms characterized by the disability. People on the spectrum of autism have a challenge with socializing and communicating. The disability level, as well as symptom combination, varies among individuals. Several childhood onset conditions form the umbrella of passive development disorders. The three most discussed disorders are autism, the syndrome of Asperger’s and pervasive development disorder (Lord et al., 2000).Contrarily, pervasive development disorders include Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder. However, they are considered extremely rare genetic diseases with separate medical conditions that do not belong to the disorders of autism.

The range of disorders has certain symptoms in common but differs in impact and severity.  The disorder that results from autism is the most severe. Other disorders considered mild include the syndrome of Asperger’s, at times referred to as high functioning autism.   Since the disorders of autism contrast in terms of the symptoms shared, it may not be easy to separate the disorders especially in the beginning. Signs and symptoms in young people include problems with conversing, speaking and developing language. The range of disorders is diagnosed depending on the availability of several symptoms that cause disruption in the ability of the child to communicate and learn.

Social interaction among children with autism spectrum disorders is a challenge. Symptoms come in the form of body language, gestures and facial expressions that are unusual. An example is a scenario where an individual avoids eye contact or engages in using gestures that un-match what he is saying. A challenge in making friends with age mates is another symptom. Moreover, autism results to the failure of understanding feelings of other people as well as being sensitivity to touch. The development of the child would be hampered since he or she is unable to interact freely with other persons to exchange ideas and express themselves.

In terms of speech and language comprehension, there would be difficulty in trying to communicate one’s desires or needs. Statements often considered simple may be difficult to comprehend for a child with autism. The disorder leads to abnormal speech and word repetition that may cause the child to have low self-esteem and fail to ask questions in class during learning. Difficulty in doing class presentations may be another point of weakness since the child is unable to talk openly. Conversation with the opposite sex may be complicated since there is trouble in starting a conversation or keeping it going.

A child may find himself continuously preoccupied with a particular thing for over long periods of time. In this case, his learning is hampered if different learning activities are expected to occur at the same time. An example is when a student with the disorder is expected to sit several exam papers in a day. The student performs well in one paper and does poorly on the rest. The reason for this variance in performance is that a child requires more time to shift psychologically from one activity to another.Autistic children are less mentally flexible compared to others. Differences are evident in the way they play. They do not engage in group games, hence giving them a hard time to learn and co-exist with others.

Autism may make children have difficulty controlling emotions as well as expressing themselves appropriately. The child may become aggressive and hurt other children if stressed. Other children are likely to avoid an autistic child due to their violence. The seclusion of the autistic child may make learning unfavorable to them. Cognitive skills of autistic children may be unevenly developed while verbal skills tend to be weaker. They tend to do well on tasks that offer immediate memory or visual skills but face difficulty when it comes to tasks of abstract thinking. Therefore, when it comes to learning, it would be easier for them to understand subjects that use diagrams to illustrate concepts as compared to literary works.

The discussed Autism and Asperger Syndrome are evident in early childhood. Neuroscience plays a significant role in trying to explain problems due to autism. Researchers have studied sensory processing in hearing and vision in autism. Testing of the sensory hypersensitivity is necessary. The testing allows determination of how children’s attention relates to the difficulties in social development. studies have revealed that overgrowth of the brain in the beginning is an autistic brain abnormality. The abnormal growth does affect the gray and white matter. The circumference of the brain of an autistic child appears smaller than average at birth. The circumference of the head grows rapidly in comparison to normal infants after several months. If there is disruption of brain development, the consequences are dire. If development is interrupted, implications come in the form of circuitry that is precise in the neural system. Consequently, the child develops autism disorder.

There are genes forming a direct link to autism. These genes are involved in growing of cells and regulating migration. The genes include PTEN and RELN. If a child lacks the genes mentioned, they suffer from autism disorder. Minicolumns form the processing cortex units and help develop a reaction to inputs in the surrounding. Minicolumns are neurotransmitter hormones. Mini columnar volumes of patients are minimized due to quick formation of precocious minicolumn. The process leaves a small length of time for the inputs that are dependent on experience and influence the development of pyramidal neurons that are distantly connected. If inhibitory neurons are underdeveloped, it could lead to hyperactivation and hyper-stimulation by simple outside stimuli. Consequently, the awareness of one’s surrounding is weakened. An individual appears overexcited by external influences often considered minor, a characteristic common with of autistic patients.

Autism primarily affects the integration processes of the high-order. An example includes social communications. Researchers are therefore focusing on the regions of the brain concerned with the purpose of the front, temporal and anterior cingulate cortex activities. The frontal cortex grows un-proportionately for autistic patients. At a later age, the cortex enlarges to 10% as compared to 48% volume increase in control experiment. Parts of the brain mostly influenced by autism are those that take a long time to develop. The sudden growing of the cortex present in the first months of life stops affecting the survival of the cells that are essential for functions of the development of the higher order.

Experiments have revealed that children with autism have impairment of language processing. The left hemisphere is responsible for processing of language. The perisylvian areas of the brain that are involved in the language processing are the gyrus (temporal superior) and the gyrus (temporal inferior) (Bauman & Kemper 2005). Studies showed that an anticipating decline in activating the left superior temporal gyrus (STG) led to underdevelopment of long distance connections of the gyrus. The listening skills of autistic patients showed a large amount of STG and right Inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in comparison to healthy persons. Teens with autism exhibited weaker inter-hemispheric synchronization in putative language areas. Impaired learning is caused by replacing the centers for gestures and attention sharing in the regions of the perisylvian.

The study involving ritual behavior as well as impairment in social skills in autistic disorders has made scientists to shift their point of interest on the anterior cingulate cortex (Rippon et al., 2007). Anterior cingulate cortex is the part of the lymphatic system that performs the function of responding to inhibition of tasks. Hypo-activation of anterior cingulate cortex results in activities, for example, the control of sporadic stimulus as well as reacting to unexpected auditory stimuli. Anterior cingulate cortex is localized in the von economo neurons (VEN) of the brain of humans. Von economo neurons control one’s awareness of self and the comprehension of context in a social set up. A decrease in the von economo neurons affects the regulation of emotions as well as integrating socially with other people.

Amygdala plays the role in mediating social behavior by recognizing emotions and enhancing the memory for activities that are to take place. It has been one of the structures in the autistic disorder being studied. Patients with the disorder show enlargement of the amygdala and the volume changes of the cerebrum stop growing proportionally. The enlargement of the amygdala is due to high levels of anxiety as well as poor communication skills. Moreover, the enlargement of the right and left amygdala correlates with the levels of mental retardation.

A lot of research has been undertaken on autistic patients’ cerebellum. As such, the cerebellum does function connected to mental processes. Therefore, scientists have identified the latter as a key part of persons with autism. The results in terms of volume report an increase in cerebellum greatness in comparison to the size required for a normal brain. The vermis amount is due to heterogeneity of autism disorder. There are changes that are evident in the pale cerebral tissues of the brain in victims. The differences present themselves through the rate of maturity and organization. The studying of pale tissues of the brain for disordered persons is consistent with the findings of a decline in fractional anisotropy in the areas performing mental activities.

Autism has also focused on research regarding transmitters in neurology (Polšek et al., 2011).Glutamate dysregulation does exist in the patients with autistism. The levels of blood in the glutamate levels were measured in disordered persons and higher than normal concentrations were found. Autism leads to the alteration of the non-essential levels of glutamate. Neurotransmitter hormone levels increased contrary to the concentration of glutamine that declined in autistic disorder. Moreover, there were lower blood levels of glutamine. The non-essential levels made up of glutamate undergo alteration in autistic patients. Vasopressin and oxytocin, which are neuropeptides, are involved in the pathophysiology of autistism patients. Oxytocin is vital in social recognition and attachment to behavior.

In conclusion, it is important to mention that autism disorders in any form they take should be mitigated in children. Such an action will offer an opportunity for learning to the children and help them relate with other children without stigmatization. Therefore, it is crucial that autistic conditions to relieve children the intellectual and social burden they may be facing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Bauman, M. L., & Kemper, T. L. (2005).The neurobiology of autism.JHU Press.

Lord, C., Cook, E. H., Leventhal, B. L., &Amaral, D. G. (2000). Autism spectrum disorders.        Neuron, 28(2), 355-363.

Polšek, D., Jagatic, T., Cepanec, M., Hof, P. R., &Šimić, G. (2011).Recent developments in          neuropathology of autism spectrum disorders.Translational neuroscience, 2(3), 256-264.

Rippon, G., Brock, J., Brown, C., & Boucher, J. (2007). Disordered connectivity in the autistic brain: challenges for the ‘new psychophysiology’. International journal of psychophysiology, 63(2), 164-172.

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