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Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

What Is Autism?

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Facts & Statistics
Facts (stats & trends) from the Autism Society of America

Common myths and misconceptions

*How is Autism treated?
*What treatments are available?
*Resources for treatment

A Mother's Story
An inspiring story of a young single Latina mother & her first born son

Latinos & Autism:
A Family Story
Story of a Latino family and their struggle to understand autism in their new country
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Overview of the Condition

Autism usually shows itself within the first 3 years of life. Autism is a developmental disability resulting from a neurological disorder that disrupts normal brain functioning. It impacts the areas in the brain that are accountable for social interaction and communication skills. Autism is one of a group of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). All ASDs are considered developmental disabilities that show lack of communication skills and lack of social interaction skills.


Autism can be characterized by a broad range of symptoms. The severity of symptoms is also broad in range and is generally characterized by terms such as “high” and “low functioning”. The most important and common characteristics stem from the lack of ability to communicate, strain in social skills, and lack of interest in anything.

Children with autism can be either very passive and make almost no demands on parents or can be very highly agitated and active. Children can often be seen cringing from the touch of others or in a state of emotional and physical repetition. Children will continuously bang their heads or themselves on objects, they will make repetitive noises from banging objects against other objects. Occasionally autism can be identified from lack of motivation to make contact with any other humans. Not all autistic children speak due to the brain functioning being depleted in the area of communication skills. Autistic children can learn to develop the skills they lack overtime.

Noted Behaviors in Children:

        • stares into open areas continuously
        • does not respond to name
        • cannot explain what their wants
        • language skills are slow to develop or speech is delayed
        • has odd movement patterns
        • spins in circles
        • covers ears with hands regularly
        • poor eye contact
        • does not respond to smiles
        • not interested in others
        • can be seen “tuning out” the world around
        • things have to be in a particular order or be done in a particular manner


Causes of Autism

There are no known causes of Autism.

The best explanations are ones that involve both environmental and genetic factors. Recently there have been publications linking particular chromosomes to Autistic behavior. The ongoing research about the causes of autism is ongoing and intense. We do know that autism only affects certain areas in the brain and is generally diagnosed before the age of three.

There was some speculation on the MMR vaccination directly related autism but subsequent research could not draw identifiable lines between two.

There are a number of other possible causes have been suspected, but not proven. They involve vaccine sensitivity, digestive tract changes, mercury poisoning, diet, and the body's inefficient use of vitamins and minerals.


Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by S. Dion Castillo in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2007.