Professor: E. Hellmann
There are many people with different kinds of disorders living among typical human beings. One of the disorders I am going to talk about is autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder that lacks brain from developing. Autism makes once brain develop really slow and even stop from developing. When I see adults with autism, I feel how hard it is for them to know that they are different from others, but it's more painful to see little children with autism trying to fit in this world. Autism effects the lives of children in many ways. According to Mash and Wolfe (2009) children with autism may display extreme fear of a loud noise or touch, act as if they are deaf, have poor eye contact, difficulties using language and disinterest in people. Children with ASD disorder struggle with lack of facial expressions, using people as social partners and distinguishing emotions. Long ago people thought that autism was caused by cold and unloving parents. But today it is common that autism is neurodevelopment disorder with many causes, (Dawson,2008). In this paper I will talk about three different causes of autism, it is treatment, and fully discuss the book by Eileen Miller The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures.
As I stated above there are three different types of autism causes: biological, genetic and environmental. Children who got autism biologically struggle with abnormal brain development. Courchesne, 2007 have said that children have problem with changing their attention from one incentive to another, avoid social interaction, stick with in repetitive behavior and echolalia. Another cause of autism is genetic. Children with genetic cause, mostly struggle with learning disability such as poor language, verbal comprehension, lack of consideration in dealing with others and pragmatic language problems, Hellmann (2013). Last known cause is environmental, which includes poor parenting, nutrition and poor education. Children with autism do not like any changes in their daily lives. For example; it is very hard for child with ASD to change his/her school location, meeting new people and they do not like even when somebody moves a chair from its place to another. Fortunately there are tons of treatments that can help children with autism,however none of the treatments work for hundred percent but they are definitely show some improvements. One of the treatments I want to mention is Teaching Appropriate Social Behavior. This treatment can help children to learn the ways to express affections that most of the children find pleasant. I think the typical child's world can not be lived without smiling, tickling, kissing and hugging, therefore Teaching Appropriate Social Behavior helps children who have ASD to feel and understand the susceptibility they receive from others. Also be able to return the same susceptibility to others. By setting a group activity so children with ASD can interact with other children. Playing with toy, pretending to feed, dress and giving a hug to the toy and sharing it may also help children with disorders to interact. The strength of Teaching Appropriate Social Behavior treatment is that it really teaches how to interact with others. Interaction, activities, participation in different events/occasions brings a lot of happiness and pleasure to children who have been diagnosed with autism. This treatment improves social behaviors in children with autism. This treatments like many others have it is own limitations. Not all of the children would like to participate in the peer/group interaction projects. Some of the kids, are accustomed to be alone, and interaction with others may cause more damage than they initially had.
In this section I am going to talk about the book The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures by Eileen Miller. This book is about a little girl Kim who has a sibling Marcia and loving parents. Kim suffers with autism since she was born however her parents found out about it later on when she was around 2-3 years old. Even though Kim struggled with lack of distinguishing emotions, disinterest in people, facial and other expressions, she was very talented. She was one of the unique kids, who spoke out through her drawings. All of her emotions, feelings and interests and wanting were expressed in her pictures. Kim's talent grew together with her and made interaction with her family easier. One of the symptoms, of Kim's disorder was that she did not like music sounds. This particular symptom affected her family in the way that, her parents couldn't listen to their favorite records because of Kim's reaction. For example: when her Mom listened to music, Kim started showing a frustration by screaming, thrilling and throwing outburst Miller (pg.40). Another symptom that Kim had was difficulties to meet new people. When she saw somebody new to her, frustration and loud scream was heard. Because of Kim her parents couldn't invite anyone to their house, because they did not want to hurt her, and did not want their visitors to be stressed out. Kim struggled with lack of using language. When Kim wanted a peanut butter cookie she couldn't say it the right way, instead she said that she wants a butter. Her mom said no, but only if she wants it on bread. Lack of expression and misunderstanding was frustrating to Kim. This was one of the situations when Kim picked a pen and a paper and drew a peanut butter cookie and showed to her mom. Her idea, or should I say talent helped to interact with outside world. Kim's mom understood what she wanted and treated her with lots of cookies. Another instance that showcase Kim's difficulty is when she had a problem with respite provider in the past that upset her. She was disturbed or afraid of a man who was her respite provider. She drew a picture of the broom covering Kim's mouth behind her as it's not letting her to speak. Kim showed her picture to her mom but could not say anything about it. Kim's mom knew her learning way was visual. She decided to burn Kim's picture in front of her so she can understand that there is nothing to be afraid of, that respite provider will never come back. After that Kim came back to her regular self again, she slept well and showed improvement. Once again Kim resolved her problem with her ability to draw. This is how the pictures that Kim drew played a tremendous role in her life. She spoke through her drawing. She could drew anything she couldn't express with words and emotions. Kim's picture told about what she went through, how she felt and what she wanted.
Kim's drawings really inspired me especially the picture that shows noises in school's cafeteria that Kim cannot deal with. It shows a girl crunching a food, teachers talking, scratching the table, and Kim on the side closing her ears and eyes saying that she cannot take it anymore, Miller (pg. 42). Another picture that had a strong impression on me, shows how Kim endures torturous noises and sound that bring her to her knees, Miller (pg.43). These two drawings can clearly interpret Kim's painful sensitiveness to sounds that other typical people may not even hear. There is one more picture that made a strong impression on me on page 95. This picture shows that a person wear a mask for others but their actual appearance might be different. I was impressed that she could draw her pain and emotions in such strong ways.
I think Kim was very lucky to grow in a loving family. Her parents helped Kim a lot to improve herself and become a successful independent in life by their patience and infinite love for her. Kim's family never let her feel that she was different. They were inspired by her drawing talent and supported her to become a professional drawing artist.
Every single person in our world is special and should treated the special way. Before starting my research, I knew very little about ASD disorder and it is causes. I thought that it is biological and that every family that had somebody with autism will continue to have in generation after generation. There are a lot of challenges that people with ASD disorder face every day. One of the most important one for me is lack of their feelings expression. People live in this world through expressing, every single look, step, carries emotions in it. ASD disorder robs those children and their opportunity to experience feelings and emotions in their lives. Honestly speaking, I was not aware about all of the consequences of this particular disorder. I did not know that people diagnosed with it have so many barriers in their lives. Autism for me was a form of down syndrome, but now I know that it is more problematic. I think that in addition to all the treatments that exist and programs to help people/children with autism every caretaker should be engages in some types of the activities, which will help children with that disorder. But every single caretaker should have different activities , which were specially build or created for the personality of child that they are taking care of.
In conclusion I can say that I have learned a lot about Autism Spectrum Disorder. At first it was not clear to me, that children with ASD disorder can have any kind of talent, but the book The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures by Eileen Miller clearly helped me to understand that children with autism can be incredibly smart and talented in specific way. I even came to conclusion that many of the typical people cannot do what Kim have done.
Mash, E. J., & Wolfe, D. A. (2013). Abnormal child psychology (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Miller, E. (2008). The girl who spoke with pictures: autism through art. London: Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.