Autism refers to a group of neurological disorders that unfortunately—and for unconfirmed and unknown reasons—are affecting more and more children. It has received a lot of publicity in the last several years resulting in a lot of confusing and conflicting information being circulated. What are the facts? We know that autism was first described independently in the early 1940s by Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger but we don’t know how long the disorder had been occurring prior to its first official description. We also know that according to the current definition of autism, it is a group of disorders that cause developmental disabilities which include abnormal brain function and trouble communicating and relating socially. We also know that, like all matters relating to the brain, we are still only in the beginning stages of understanding autism. But there currently are reliable standards for diagnosis and there are some treatments available. With new research being released on a frequent basis, there is new hope for further understanding and even more effective treatments of the disorders in the future.
To read an autistic woman’s first hand account of her experience as a child with autism, I recommend the book “Nobody, Nowhere” by Donna Williams which I have read and found very enlightening.
If you are interested in what adult autistics are capable of, I suggest looking into celebrated animal behaviour expert, author and Ph.D. holder Temple Grandin. Her autistic symptoms have provided her with unique abilities that have made her a leader in the field of animal behavior. Her website is http://www.templegrandin.com/templehome.html and it includes a list of the books she has authored and co-authored.