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By SEAN KIMBALL
CASA GRANDE HIGH SCHOOL, 17, JUNIOR

Published: Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 4:03 a.m.

Have you ever met someone who is just socially awkward? It may be that their words do not come out right. It may be that they come across as rude or egotistical. It may be that they lack the social skills of the average teenager. Or it may be that they, like thousands of other teens, children and adults in America, have autism.

“Autism is a brain-based disability which primarily affects a person’s ability to learn social skills,” said Casa Grande High School speech therapist Babs Bryant. In many cases of autism, it also can result in learning disabilities.

When many think about autism, they think of those who respond to over-stimulation by the rocking and the shaking of hands, as well as communication difficulties. However, this is not always the case.

“Here on campus we have a variety of autistic students: Typically, they can range from being very academic and smart and then there definitely are those who have learning disabilities,” Bryant said.

Sophomore John Cook, who is autistic, said about the difficulties of living with the disability: “It’s hard for me to make friends since it’s hard for me to talk right. I don’t know the right things to say, and it’s not always what I mean.”

As time has progressed, new information identifying the symptoms of autism have been discovered and, as a result, the disability is now recognized at earlier ages and with less severe cases. Previously, these cases would not have been diagnosed but now are receiving special help.

“The old model of autism was of people who rock their heads, shake their hands, are completely non-verbal, and would have funny little obsessions,” Bryant said. “You would think about a more impaired person. More recently the diagnosis has been redefined, and we see more functional people with more subtle manifestations of the disability.”

Read More …  http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100328/NEWS/3281046/1329/LIFESTYLE?p=1&tc=pg



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