THE Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) classified the so-called “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD) under neurodevelopmental disorders (disorder 299.00). The diagnosis made— those with ASD lack in social communication and accompanied by “excessively” repetitive behaviors, restricted interests and sameness insistence.
The term “excessively” is essentially subjective, while the three accompanying behaviors can easily describe both the genius behavior and our contemporary insistence for specialization. Meanwhile, genius is often associated with perceivable social isolation due to highly rested interests.
Is autism a normal but essentially unique behaviorism? Or is it a disease?
While it is generally accepted among psychiatrists that autism demonstrates atypical growth patterns, there have never been consistency in these patterns... that is, even among twins, according to the 10-member team who published their findings this month in the journal “Molecular Psychiatry.” The current understanding of autism cannot be restricted to neurodevelopmental issues. Environmental influences are also generally accepted as influential.
However, if environmental factors significantly influence autism development, does not that mean that autism is an acquired behavior instead of being genetically driven?
So far, research on autism is still a less definitive one. The diversity of autistic characteristics is simply high, which explains the use of the term “spectrum” in its psychiatric nomenclature. Thus, I intended to let those questions float in your mind so that you may find the answer yourself, which may take you more decades to come.
However, each time I think about autism, I also think of Temple Grandin. I saw the movie about her life, starring “Homeland” star Catherine O’Hara. The movie demonstrated three lessons for reflection. First, psychiatry does not have the final say in treating autism. Second, labeling can oftentimes cause psycho-emotional damage than treating a person with respect and love. Third, the so-called “normal” person does not make him more gifted than those with “autism.” Temple has a remarkable photographic memory.
For parents with children diagnosed with “autism spectrum disorder,” forget about the label. Instead, understand your child specifically for who he is and help him acquire more skills in areas where he has weaknesses and support areas where he is very strong. Any dedicated parent for a “normal” child does that. This means that you have to be a hands-on parent who is willing to look for knowledge that will help your child. Psychiatry has simply no cure for it. Moreover, to appreciate your child’s gifts, watch the movie “Temple Grandin.”