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Transcript of Autism
It is usually apparent before the age of three.
Approximately one out of 166 babies born has some autistic features.
It is found in every country in the world, and every ethnic and social background.
Once thought it arose from stresses in the child’s environment (refrigerator mother concept).
The 2012 number reflects a 78% increase in reported prevalence in the last six years.
Autism is not an intellectual disorder; it is a neurological disorder.
Autism affects different parts of your brain such as the cerebellum and basal ganglia.
Autism affects both verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
Common mental illnesses can develop in somebody with autism, usually in the form of social anxiety, or depression.
by Clare Allgeier and Emma Jewell
As with the majority of people with mental illnesses, in earlier centuries it was believed that those diagnosed with autism were inhuman.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, so-called "idiot savants", who we now know to be autistic, were often put in traveling circuses and freak shows.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, autistic people were commonly put into mental institutions (one of the most recognizable examples being the Bethlem Royal Hospital in England) and experimented on.
The Bethlem Royal Hospital (nicknamed "Bedlam") in England is one of the most famous asylums in history. Although now a modern psychiatric facility, it became a historical representation of the worst excesses in the era of "lunacy reform".
The living conditions of Bedlam's patients were poor, and many patients were kept restrained (ex: chained to walls or pipes).
1988 drama film that tells the story of an abrasive and selfish yuppie, Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), who discovers that his estranged father has died and bequeathed all of his multimillion-dollar estate to his other son, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), an autistic savant of whose existence Charlie was unaware.
There is a better understanding of why people with autism behave the way they do.
Now treatment is based on the specific person as opposed to autism or mental illnesses in general.
People with autism are no longer as socially segregated.
Fifteen years ago, Facilitated Communication was introduced; this helps people with autism communicate, especially those who cannot communicate verbally.
There are developmental education classes for students with all kids of mental and physical disabilities, that include persons with autism.
The word "autism" comes from the Greek word "autos", meaning self.
The term "autism" was first used to refer to a group of characteristics for schizophrenia.
The first recorded case of autism was in 1800, in Jean Marc Gaspard Itard's study of the approximately twelve-year-old Victor. (Wild Child)
The world of autism has changed exceptionally in the last few decades. Here's some examples of how:
Was born on August 29, 1947.
She was diagnosed with autism as a child.
She went on to earn a PhD in animal science and is currently a university professor.
She has written books and done consulting for the humane treatment of animals.
In 2010 there was a HBO movie created about Temple Grandin's life.
From the 1960s through the 1970s, research into treatments relied on pain and punishment.
During the 1980's and 1990's main treatments relied on behavioral therapy and the use of highly controlled learning environments.
Until the late 1980's, autism was generally believed to be a curable illness.
Autism in Fiction:
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
2005 novel by Johnathan Safran Foer about a nine-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum named Oskar Schell. In the story, Oskar discovers a key in a vase that belonged to his father that inspires him to search all around New York for information about the key.
The film was released in 2011, starring Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, and Sandra Bullock.
In the past, people with autism have been treated like they aren't human beings.
Autism is prevalent in all races, countries, and socioeconomic classes.
The illness does not differ in different countries, although resources for treatment range from more to less in some countries.
Autism has always existed, but wasn't identified as autism until recent centuries.
In the past, autistic people were segregated and treated horribly.
Now, scientists, families, and society as a whole have a better understanding of autism.
Society has also become more open to people with disabilities and there are more opportunities for integration.
The main characteristic of autism is impaired social interactions.
Other characteristics include repetitive behavior that can be self-harmful, restricted or abnormal interests, unusual responses to sensations, fine and gross motor deficits, and communication problems.
Although there are many speculated theories as to what causes autism, there is no one definite, proven cause.
Inability to babble or coo by one year.
Inability to gesture by one year.
Inability to say single words by sixteen months.
Inability to say two-word phrases on his or her own by two years.
Loss of any language or social skill at any age.
Symptoms of autism often become apparent during childhood, and can include:
Patients' illnesses were "cured" through methods such as:
Lemon juice squirted in faces
Dousing in extremely hot or cold water
Discussion Question #2
Do you think that people with autism (or other disabilities) should have separate classes and other societal environments specific to their needs? Should they be completely integrated with the rest of society?
Until recently, the autism spectrum of pervasive development disorders had a list of subcategories (autistic disorder, Asperger's syndrome, Rett's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive disorder non-specified).
However, with the release of the DSM-5 (the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, superseding the DSM-4 published in 2000) on May 18, 2013, the subcategories do not exist.
These subcategories are now generalized as "autism spectrum disorder".
Discussion Question #1
What is your opinion on the treatment of people with autism in the past?
Discussion Question #3
Do you know anyone with autism? Or have you come across anyone with autism?
Impact of Autism on Society
The impact ranges from the music we listen to, to the books we read; autism has affected what we see now as "modern culture".
Autism gives someone a different outlook of the world, and it has affected how we all now see the world.
There have been some people with autism who are considered geniuses.
Avoidance: Not placing one’s self in a situation in which he or she would be exposed to the stimuli.
Predictability: Organizing or controlling situations.
Mental Preparation: Planning and getting ready for stimuli that are expected to be uncomfortable but unavoidable.
Talking Through: Making rationalizations for the stimuli or reassuring oneself as the stimuli are occurring that they can be handled or endured.
Counteraction: Engaging in activities to reduce or negate the effect of the disturbing input or stimulation (These are frequently proprioceptive activities).
Confrontation: Identifying a response to stimuli and developing a plan to overcome the negative reaction.
"Autism is a neurological disorder which causes developmental disability. Autism affects the way the brain functions, resulting in difficulties with communication and social interaction, and unusual patterns of behavior, activities and interests."
-Autism Society of Canada
Discussion Question #4
Do you think there is anyway we could still improve the way people with disabilities are treated?
Things You Should Say To An Autistic Person:
"So is that like being retarded?"
"You should be very proud of yourself. You seem so normal. I couldn't tell that you're autistic."
"Can you have sex?"
"Does that mean you're really good at math/computers/numbers?"
"Do you take any medications for that?"
"But you go to school. You couldn't do that if you were really autistic."
"What's it like to be autistic?"
(Asking a question about the autistic person to a parent, support person, aide, sibling, or friend who is standing or sitting beside the autistic person)