The autism spectrum disorder is defined as a group of certain mental disturbances or neurodevelopmental disorders. This group of illnesses includes autism, pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder. Usually, these disorders are described as ones that cause difficulties in communication, social deficits, repetitive behaviors, stereotyped interests and cognitive delays. The autism spectrum disorder has several identified causes and many treatments have been developed in order to make ASD patients’ lives easier.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5 (DSM-5) issued in 2013 provided a new look on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by adding the previous diagnoses, and implementing the dimensional approach by using the existing autism spectrum umbrella. Usually, individuals, diagnosed with ASD, are accepted as one diagnostic category due to expressing similar symptoms including the symptomatic indicators connected with social communication, the severity of fixed and/or restricted behaviors as well as other disease-associated features (Losh, Sullivan, Trembath, & Piven, 2008). Autism is at the core of ASD, and it was presented by the first time in 1943 by a well-known psychiatric Leo Kanner. This illness is usually characterized by the delays in development that occur before the age of three including malfunctioning in social interaction, communication and occurrences of certain behaviors that are repetitive, restricted or possess certain stereotypical patterns. Usually, the first symptoms of ASD occur during the first year of a person’s life, and it is usually diagnosed within the first three years (Losh, Sullivan, Trembath, & Piven, 2008).
Despite the illness has been known for more than 50 years, the exact causes of autism are yet to be found. There are many risk factors identified that attribute to the development of ASD, including genetic predisposition, prenatal and perinatal causes, environmental factors and certain neuro-anatomical deviations. Genetic predisposition is considered to be one of the main ASD causes (Landrigan, 2010). Genetic factors contributing to the development of the disorder include prevalence of autism amongst relatives and malfunctioning of certain genes, even though the general research on the subject might be rather inconclusive. Researchers agree that ASD occur due to combination of genetic factors and early environmental impact. Many environmental factors contribute to the occurrence and/or development of autism. Among them are illnesses and/or infectious processes that a mother goes through during pregnancy, advanced age of either of parents, usage of drugs or certain prescribed medications, alcohol usage on the early stages of pregnancy, deficiency of certain microelements in mother’s organism, stress that an expectant mother experiences, certain perinatal conditions, and the postnatal environment (Landrigan, 2010).
Throughout the years, many autism treatment therapies were developed attempting to diminish the symptoms of the disease and to improve the lives of individuals affected by the disease. The process of autism management is usually adapted concerning the certain needs of a child and includes medical treatment and educational involvement (Corsello, 2005). If a child is provided with proper intensive educational program and intensive behavior therapy during the early stages of ASD, they will be able to acquire the necessary skills to lead full life in the society. One of the most common approaches towards ASD treatment is the applied behavior analysis (ABA). Intensive usage of this particular treatment has proven its effectiveness in managing functioning in preschool children and in improving intellectual presentation in young children. Various methods of behavior modification are used while dealing with occurrences of ASD. In fact, ABA has been used for ASD treatment since 1960s trying to positively modify the behavior by implementing various techniques in classroom environment and in everyday situations. There are certain ABA techniques that require one-to-one interaction betwixt a behavior analyst and a person diagnosed with ASD. This particular treatment has been widely recognized as one of the most effective and safe ones being implemented in many institutions in order to help ASD patients develop both basic and complex social skills and to help them live their life without as little disadvantages as possible. Researches prove that implementation of ABA techniques for ASD treatment results in improvement in patients’ social and communicative skills, make their participation in family and community activities more dynamic. By helping ASD children practice their behavior in various situations, ABA prepares them for real-life situations, but they still need additional support (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2011).
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Due to the fact that ASD is a rather common disease, numerous researches are carried out in order to determine new ways of treating children with ASD. For example, McConachie and Diggle in their review on parent-implemented ASD intervention for young children state that many families with children having ASD need additional services to fulfill their needs (McConachie & Diggle, 2007). Therefore, it is useful for parents to implement certain intervention strategies aimed at helping autistic children to improve their skills and reduce stress for both parents and children. After analyzing the interventions used for ASD children, the effectiveness of parent-implemented early intervention has been proven. When parents implement certain techniques, they help their children improve communicational techniques, increase their own awareness concerning the disease, improve interactions with a child and reduce the negative outcomes of ASD on their own emotional well-being (McConachie & Diggle, 2007).
ASD is one of the most spread mental diseases in the world. However, there are still no clear causes of the disease identified. The most common occurrence of ASD is due to combination of internal and external factors, such as genetic predisposition and environmental causes. There are many ways of ASD management, and ABA has proven to be the most successful and harmless one. What is more, parents can be taught how to implement early ASD intervention techniques in order to help their children diagnosed with the disease.