The Etiology of Autism Essay

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The Etiology of Autism Autism is a syndrome that is characterized by the impairment of social interaction skills, verbal and nonverbal communication, and a decreased interest in participating in a variety of activities. In 1943, Kanner, the man who is attributed with the identification of this disease, hypothesized that autism might be a biological disorder as opposed to a psychological one. Numerous studies have been conducted supporting Kanner’s hypothesis. These studies have ranged from examining the effects of rubella to investigating certain purine metabolic disorders as possible etiological agents. Recently, the areas of neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, and genetics have played a crucial role in developing a clearer picture into…show more content…
Courchesne directed his focus on the vermal lobules of these subjects based on a previous study he conducted on a non-retarded, autistic individual who displayed severe underdevelopment of vermal lobules VI and VII. In order to compare the differences between the scans, Courchesne made tracings of the scans and superimposed these tracings according to whether the subject was in the normal control or the autistic group. Tracings were only made of vermal lobules I-V and VI-VII, respectively. Tracings of vermal lobules IX and X weren’t taken because the MRI scans didn’t display well-defined boundaries for them. Upon comparison of the control tracings and the autistic tracings, Courchesne found that "…vermal lobules VI-VII of the patients with autism were found to be significantly smaller than those of the controls…lobules I to V (the anterior vermis) were similar in size in the autistic and normal groups" (1350). Due to the correlation of the underdeveloped vermal lobules VI and VII within the autistic group, Courchesne drew the conclusion hat this anatomical abnormality was related to the disease. Courchesne, through examining the width of the fissures and the overall proportions of the lobules, also concluded that the diminished size of these lobules could be attributed to developmental hypoplasia. This developmental hypoplasia of the
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