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Understanding Autism

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]utism is a developmental disorder that causes impaired communication and interaction. Because of a gender bias with diagnosis, 25% more males are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder than females, with around 1.2 million people under 21 having the disorder.

Since 2013 all autism disorders were now classified under the same umbrella, which includes Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, Childhood Disintergrative Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, and Persuasive Developmental Disorder. Though it’s unknown how Autism occurs, most researchers believe it is most likely caused by either genetic or environmental influences, with metal seemingly in higher rates in Autistic children’s blood, according to an article published by the Arizona State University called Study Finds Higher Levels of Several Toxic Metals in Children with Autism. Autism has not been shown to be caused by vaccines, contrary to what some believe, even with twins who were both vaccinated there are cases where only one has developed Autism.

When an anonymous Thornton Junior was eight, he was first diagnosed with Autism, and when he was ten he was diagnosed with Aspergers. Aspergers is the highest functioning form of Autism, usually without physical disabilities. Though Autism isn’t curable, Aspergers is more easily managed than more severe forms of the disorder.

He believes Aspergers sometimes hinders his educational progress, as he is not very sociable, so he’s struggled a bit with asking for assistance on assignments. He believes that Autistic students are quick to connect with others, but may fall short with the school curriculum. People have told him that Autistic students are more likely to be better engineers and scientists, but less likely to be good lawyers or psychiatrists.

“A lot of people use Autistic as an insult. For instance, furries are often referred to as heavily Autistic. I honestly have no qualms with others using the word as an insult, because it is indeed labeled as a primarily negative trait to have, but I don’t feel it’s very sporting of anyone to use someone actually being Autistic to discriminate against them.”

Senior Gabriel J. was also very young when first diagnosed with Aspergers, around the time he was three or four. He has never believed it truly hindered his education, only having minor difficulties, and he was always able to get help when he needed it.

He believes that Aspergers has as many positive as negative qualities. “I can focus on gaming, and zoning out when I’m home, and at school I’m a sponge with information. I’m socially awkward, and I’m sensitive to facial expression and tone of voice. I’m also very picky with my interests, as I latch onto one interest. I’m used to a routine, so I don’t react well to change.” Gabriel is familiar with autistic stereotypes and said, “I’ve heard a lot; being retarded, being dumb, mostly. I usually just laugh them off, or just flat out ignore them.”

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