Psychological disorders often challenge people’s social performance and behavioral development. Such implications are well presented in the study of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Reflection on Amos, a network engineer, living with ASD, the disorder challenges the behavior, communication, and social functioning of an individual. Some causes of ASD include genetic factors, neurobiology, and environmental factors, despite the lack of a cure for the disorder.
Amos is a network engineer in California. He is aged 26, single, has no parents are separated from his older sister. Amos appears physically healthy and sobber, although he is living with ASD. ASD is an abnormal developmental condition, which impairs behavior development, an individual’s ability to interact socially with others, effectively communicate. It is often recognized in early childhood as a child develops difficulty in speaking and gazing at objects. According to the DSM-5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), ASD is diagnosed over social communication and restricted, repetitive behavior (APA, 2017). That is, people with ASD may undergo difficulty in verbal and non-verbal communication, reveal weak social interactions, stereotypes, and abnormal interests (Wiggins et al., 2019). Also, the DSM-5 outlines that the inability to change from routines, difficulty coping with other people, distress, rigid focus, and limited pickup o social cues are among the criteria for ASD (APA, 2017). In that light, Amos is identified as with ASD.
For instance, Amos interacts only with a few of his workmates and a lady next to his room. While his social life seems constricted to the two places – work and home, Amos appears contented about it and does not desire moving out into social gathering. He has a different worldview in that he analyzes situations in his mind, and processes information literally with no regard to social cues. For insistence, Amelia (his neighbor) says that she wishes for someone to cuddle, which is a suggestion for them to have an intimate moment, but Amos concludes that she is freezing or sick. He is easily provoked and does seldom pick up on sarcasm.
Additionally, Amos has a highlighted sensitivity. He is utterly frightened by flying insects like the bee. His speech has abnormal inflection, and it may be challenging to understand him during the first encounter. For instance, during his interview, he kept quiet, seeming to want to answer questions asked to him for about three minutes. Also, Amos does not have an interest in maintaining eye contact when speaking. He becomes very uncomfortable in inquisitions. His daily routine is fixated, and he does not desire to change his routines. In his pockets, he always has a Rubik’s cube, which he is utterly attached to. He is mostly solving it when not working on his networking duties. His intellect is near genius, as he has an excellent photographic memory, which enables him to recall huge sets of computer codes. Hence, most of his traits are considered abnormal and may be identified as an ASD, according to the DM-5.
The symptoms identified above influence the functioning of Amos across all aspects of his holistic life. That is, he experiences differential outcomes on his social status, academics, work deliverables, and the trend is prevalent. For instance, his associated disorder causes him to avoid social interactions. This has led him to leave his home and avoiding roommates. While Amos does not have parents, as they were involved in an accident, he has avoided contact with his elder sister for a long time. At work, he prefers working in a private office or to freelance since his position can allow that. Although his neighbor Amelia is a regular guest in his house, he is disturbed and suggests to her to go back into her room. Therefore, ASD has led Amos to isolate himself socially. Probably, it is the reason why he is not yet married.
Although he is naturally inclined to avoidance of social gatherings, his interaction with other people often ends up rough, discouraging him from interacting. For instance, he is offended by most sarcastic jokes, which feels insulting to him. This arises from his literal processing of information, with no regard for social cues or nonverbal communication. Some people have also found him difficult to understand social issues and hard to trust since he seldom looks into someone’s eyes. However, his brain is extra ordinally sharp, enabling him to recall large sets of data codes. This strength has enabled him to perform extraordinarily well in his networking job. He is so attached to it that he would rather decline a promotion, than a shift from his office and routine, which he terms as perfect.
ASD is caused by a range of factors, including genetic risk factors, neurobiological factors, and environmental factors. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledge that there are other potential causes of ASD, which are not yet identified (“What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?”, 2020). Most scientists have found that genetic factors are the leading cause of ASD. For instance, ASD is linked to genetic variations associated with the X chromosome; this many boys than girls have been diagnosed with ASD (Rylaarsdam and Guemez-Gamboa, 2019). Also, in a twin experiment, it appeared that a pair of tweens where one was diagnosed with ASD, the other tween was likely to real the disorder in their generation Rylaarsdam and Guemez-Gamboa, 2019). Therefore, children whose siblings have ASD are at a higher risk of developing the disorder than their counterparts. For instance, Ozonoff et al. (2011) found that 20% of all children diagnosed with ASD had an older sibling or relative living with ASD. Besides, the CDC reports that the most critical time when one can develop ASD is prior, during, or after delivery (“What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?”, 2020). Therefore, there is a link between the hereditary factors associated with the conception and delivery of a child with ASD. Other studies find that people who give birth to children at their old age have higher risk of conceiving children with ASD (“What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?”, 2020). Therefore, ASD is partly caused by genetic factors.
Besides genetic factors, there is a strong correlation between neurobiological factors and ASD. Some studies suggest that ASD is caused by anomalies in the genetic code, which results in abnormal brain development (Rylaarsdam and Guemez-Gamboa, 2019). Therefore, the brain ends up developing a large gray matter at the frontal and temporal lobes, which foster cognition. Consequently, their brain develops only a small white matter and fails to develop adequate synaptic that enhance the anatomical structures (Wiggins et al., 2019). The effects of these developments include decreased or increased sensitivity to external stimuli, avoidance of social events, and decreased neural sensitivity to gaze shifts in early childhood or infancy. Therefore, the neurobiological factors underly the development of the brain, and thus cognitive capabilities.
There are ongoing studies that concern the implications of the environment on cognitive development, and thus ASD. Mostly, the prenatal and postnatal experience is linked to cases of ASD. According to the CDC, exposure to the environment may have a significant impact on the development of ASD (“What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?”, 2020). Thus, ASD is caused by genetic factors, neurobiological factors, and exposure to the environment, among others.
Currently, there is no cure for ASD. Nevertheless, the CDC confirms that early intervention may improve a child’s developmental experience (“What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?”, 2020). According to current studies, professionals may help a child from birth up to 36 months in learning essential skills and thus allow them to live a relatively better life. Such skills include communication, walking, child talk, and playing with others. The WHO has developed a framework through which professionals may execute their therapeutic help. That is, (a) capitalize on a child’s strength and foster their weakness, (b) enhance their ability to participate in social events, and (c) reduce barriers to communication and social interactions (Snell, 2002). Hence, ASD is not curable but manageable.
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ASD is an abnormal developmental condition, which impairs an individual’s ability to interact socially with others, communicate effectively, and behavior development. It has impaired Amos’s ability to communicate and has made him exclude himself socially. Some potential causes include genetic factors, exposure to the environment, and neurobiological factors. There is currently no cure for the disorder, although it is manageable over a framework provided by the WHO.
Ozonoff, S., Young, G. S., Carter, A., Messinger, D., Yirmiya, N., Zwaigenbaum, L., Bryson, S., Carver, L. J., Constantino, J. N., Dobkins, K., Hutman, T., Iverson, J. M., Landa, R., Rogers, S. J., Sigman, M., . . . Stone, W. L. (2011). Recurrence risk for autism spectrum disorders: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium study. Pediatrics, 128(3), e448–e495. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2010-2825
“What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?”, 2020. Basics About Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | NCBDDD | CDC. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html> [Accessed 24 June 2020].
APA, 2017. Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
Rylaarsdam, L. and Guemez-Gamboa, A., 2019. Genetic Causes and Modifiers of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 13.
Wiggins, L., Rice, C., Barger, B., Soke, G., Lee, L., Moody, E., Edmondson-Pretzel, R. and Levy, S., 2019. DSM-5 criteria for autism spectrum disorder maximizes diagnostic sensitivity and specificity in preschool children. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 54(6), pp.693-701.