Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Autism, Disorders, Genetics, Environment, Children, Study, World, Family

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/12/22

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Abstract

The goal of this paper is to inform the reader of what autism is and how it is caused in regards to environmental and genetic factors, and then determines which of the two is more prevalent in causing the disorder. While environmental factors can be very important when considering the causes and effects of autism on the individual and their perception of the world around them, genetic factors have shown a decided predominance in recognizing the disorder in all its different varieties. Autism is a very serious disorder about which little is known. What studies show is that although research is inconclusive, it is still fairly certain that genetic factors are more likely to be the cause rather than environment.
Autism is, quite simply put, a type of disconnect between the individual affected and the world around them. This is not to say that they cannot communicate in some manner, but more that there is a missing link between how those with autism view and interact with the world that people without autism have great trouble understanding. There is interaction, but it exists on a level that is hard to fathom and even more difficult to understand.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a general term used to describe all types of autism. (What is Autism? 2015) While the cause of autism is still under heavy research and debate, there have been scientific breakthroughs that have allowed for some understanding as to what causes this varied disorder. Both genetic and environmental factors have been identified and studied as means to finding out just what causes autism in its various forms. (Landrigan, 2010)
While genetic precursors are generally specific to heredity and bloodlines, environmental contributions that play a part in the developmental role of a child are harder to pin down. This has to do with the fact that children are exposed to thousands of differing synthetic toxins each year that can change depending upon government regulations, feedback from parents who do in fact have a child with ASD, and several other factors that will affect studies that are continually being undertaken to better understand this developmental disorder.
There is currently no cure for autism, only the longstanding patience and devotion of those who must care for those who are affected by the disorder. Yet studies have pointed again and again to both environmental and genetic factors as the reason behind its occurrence. There are still studies being conducted to determine how and why those with autism are grouped into subdivisions such as “high functioning”, “moderate functioning”, and “low functioning”.
What causes these differing levels is still largely unknown, but what is known is that at each level a child will show distinct signs that place them into such groups. Behaviors that are common amongst most children with ASD however are a general disassociation with others, an inability to fully comprehend differing emotional states, and an overall lack of compassion, empathy, or even what might pass as an actual emotion. At one point and time those who were autistic were thought to be psychotic, anti-social, and even mentally deficient. When one looks at the definition of autism however it can be seen that it is a Greek word deriving from aut-, which means self, and -tism, which is orientation. (Trevarthyn, Aitken, Papoudi, Robarts, 2010) In this vein one can swiftly deduce that autistic children are believed to be more focused upon themselves and less so on the world around them.
This is by no means a sense of ego, pride, or conceit, but rather a disconnect within the developing brain that does not allow for social skills or even full realization of their surroundings to be recognized, thereby keeping them within that internal world where all that seems to matter is what they need, that they receive it, and that the world, their world, makes sense. Autistic persons tend to think more about the deduction of a dilemma rather than the process, focusing upon the end result that should occur rather than the many variables within a given situation that might very well appear. When presented with such obstacles those with autism have been noted to be not only challenged but liable to become quite frustrated as the part of their brain in which systematic reasoning takes over in others simply does not function as it should in their own mind. In other words those with autism know how certain things are supposed to go, but cannot fully understand the why and how of the dilemma when things do not go as planned.
Environmental causes are less likely to be more influential with the onset of autism within children as they are more easily controlled than genetic predisposition. While even heredity is not accurate enough to determine who will be born with autism and who will not, it is hardly conclusive to determine that certain genetic factors will play a major role in abnormal brain development. (Bailey, Couteur, Gottesman, Bolton, Simonoff, Yuzda, Rutter, 1995) Genetic factors are in fact very influential in brain development and how disorders are developed throughout the initial nine months of development.
A well-defined neuropsychiatric disorder, autism generally used to be recorded in very few individuals, perhaps so few as 4 or 5 within 10,000, though now the number is closer to between 10 and 12 out of 10,000. (Liu, Nyholt, Magnussen, Parano, Pavone, Geschwind, Lord, Iversen, Hoh, Ott, Gilliam, 2001) Why that number has risen is not entirely certain at this point, but the mere fact that it has begs the question as to whether it was misdiagnosed or if the criteria for determining autism has changed throughout the years. Whatever the case, autism is seen to be a very predominant genetic disorder, though there are environmental aspects that can affect a developing fetus as well.
Like genetics however environmental factors do not offer any conclusive data in regards to the onset of autism. By age three and on through adulthood individuals will experience autism. While toxins and other environmental hazards can be quite dangerous and even disrupt the normal growth of a fetus, there is no definitive manner in which to be certain that autism will be a result of exposure to one or more harmful and potentially mutative substances that may or may not affect a child while still in the womb.
Autism is not an easily traceable disorder, nor is it particularly easy to discover until the age of three, when normal developmental processes that are not met are finally noticed. What is known about the disorder is that it offers a variety of low- to high-functioning displays and is generally displayed as a general disconnect from the world around the individual in a manner that can be mistaken for aloofness, arrogance, conceit, and even ignorance, but is in fact a different means by which the affected individual perceives the world in their own manner, taking in information utilizing the mental connections they do possess, rather than by conventional means used by so many.
Autistic children are generally unresponsive to outside stimuli unless directly approached, in which case the reaction can range from calm to exceedingly violent, meaning that an intrusion that they cannot understand, a touch, a voice they do not recognize, could possibly trigger an episodic fit that is a means of coping with what does not fit into the ideal model of what should be and how the outcome should look to their way of thinking. Not all autistic individuals react violently, though it is a stereotype that many have associated with the disorder thanks to media and studies that have depicted autism as a disorder that makes one essentially entirely dependent upon another. While this is close to the truth in some cases it does not make those who are autistic invalids, as many of those with this disorder are high-functioning enough to take on tasks when directed to do so and taught through much repetition how to do them.
While it is undetermined as of yet what the true and underlying cause of autism is such a disorder begs to be understood and better classified in a manner that will allow those who look for such genetic and environmental markers a better guideline so as to fully encompass their research and find a definitive set of answers. While it may very well prove highly ineffective in stalling or even eradicating the disorder altogether, a new and more complete study could possibly give a better insight and even allow for a manner of realization to enter the particular equation in which autism has been found as the only common denominator.
Given that no true source has been listed or even pinned down as the absolute cause of autism and its variety of disorders, the opportunity to go to the source would be nearly impossible and quite difficult to even fathom without the research that has already been conducted. Using this will serve as a means of reference in the new study I will propose, a study that will go beyond the research and seek to open a wider picture into the issue of autism and what its real causes are.
Environmentally speaking this disorder would be almost impossible to detect, as if it is in fact caused by outside factors there is little if any conclusive data that could be given in order to determine what a pregnant mother has eaten, drank, or otherwise allowed into her body that might stunt the development of her unborn child. Plus, as autism is not fully recognized until the child has come to be three years of age, the environmental factors that are thought to be at large in the cause of autism may very well number in the thousands of more per child, leaving researchers absolutely no common ground to work from in matters of isolating any one substance that might be responsible for the development of autism.
As autism is seen to occur in much higher frequency amongst twins, it would be then likely that this research would need to begin with the assumption that twins are more likely to depict the results that the study seeks and therefore be the prime subject for such research. (Hallmayer, Cleveland, Torres, Phillips, Cohen, Torigoe, Miller, Fedele, Collins, Smith, Lotspeich, Croen, Ozonoff, Lajonchere, Grether, Risch, 2011) In making this deduction it would behoove researchers to seek out or find other ways to attract the attention of those parents who either have had twins in the past or are expecting twins in order to obtain a baseline set of data from which to work.
Looking at autism from a genetic perspective and from those who are theorized to exhibit the disorder in greater frequencies is merely a baseline, but will lead towards more definitive data as heredity is a much greater factor than environment in determining how the human brain will develop. While environment will always be a factor, genetics are a link between individuals that cannot at this current moment be controlled, and are therefore far more likely to give more definitive answers. At this time study of the human brain is already quite extensive, but little is still known in comparison to the vast knowledge that still remains to be discovered, and determining the genome and effects of hereditary factors that lead to autism might one day allow scientists to determine the likelihood that such a disorder might occur, and possibly guard against it or otherwise counsel an affected couple before they unknowingly subject their child to such an existence.
Autism is not the end of a life, nor is it any less of a life for the simple fact that it allows little perception to be reflected from the individual so afflicted. Unfortunately the disconnection between the individual and the world around them has yet to be fully understood, and therefore must be handled with care and patience until such a genetic marker is found.

References

Bailey, A.; Le Couteur, A.; Gottesman, I.; Bolton, P.; Simonoff E.; Yuzda, E.; Rutter, M. Autism
as a strongly genetic disorder: evidence from a British twin study. Psychological Medicine, 25(1), p 63-77.
Hallmayer, Joachim, MD, et al. (2011). Genetic Heritability and Shared Environmental Factors
Among Twin Pairs With Autism. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 68(11), p1095-1102
Landrigan, Philip J. (2010). What causes autism? Exploring the environmental contribution.
Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 22(2), p219-225
Liue, Jianjun; et al. (2001) A Genomewide Screen for Autism Susceptibility Loci.
The American Journal of Human Genetics, 69(3), p672
Trevarthyn, Colwyn; Aitken, Kenneth; Papoudi, Despina; Robarts, Jaqueline. (2010). Children
With Autism: Diagnosis and Interventions to Meet Their Needs. Texas: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
What is Autism? (2015). Autism Speaks. Retrieved from
https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism

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