ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Autism: A Fascinating Tragedy

Updated on November 11, 2013

Connecting With Autistic People

Understanding Autism

In most cases, the way autistic people interact with others is not normal, nor is their method of speaking or communicating in other ways. Autistic people often repeat the same things, over and over again. They have characteristic behavior and unique ways of speaking.

Medical science itself, for all its amazing advances, still does not have a clear grasp of the causes of autism or the cure, if there is one. Autism is rare, but not that rare. In a group of one million people, there might be about one thousand or two thousand with autism.

For some reason, it's mostly males who are autistic. They outnumber autistic females four to one.

America, strangely, has many more people diagnosed with autism than other countries, either because there are more autistic people in America, or because other countries do not have doctors making the diagnosis as often as American doctors. The rate of autistic people in America is ten to twenty times higher than the worldwide rate. This means in a city of one million people in America there will be, on average, 10,000 to 20,000 autistic people. The number of people diagnosed with autism by American doctors has doubled in the last five years. But because financial assistance is available through the government for families with autistic dependents, some of the American diagnoses might be influenced and encouraged by monetary considerations.

Normally, children two years old and younger show signs of autism. It seems tragic, but many people now believe that autism is something people can live with all their lives, and that the autistic person should not be treated as a disabled individual who has a mental problem that makes him or her incompetent and incapable of handling situations that normally require ordinary skills.

Repeated motions or interactions, and other out of the ordinary behavior, characterize the autistic person. Autistic people usually have a hard time understanding why so-called normal people act and talk the way they do. Because they really can't understand other people very well, autistic people don't connect closely with normal people as a rule.

The tragedy is that autistic people are alone much of the time because they have trouble relating to others. But there are fascinating things. Autistic people love order for some reason and take great pleasure in lining up objects or stacking them neatly.

In the Hollywood movie "Rainman" starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, Rainman (Hoffman) was Cruise's autistic brother, Raymond, who had uncanny abilities in math and other useful skills. But this is not typical of autistic people. Perhaps only ten percent, or less, of autistic people have these amazing skills or other highly impressive abilities.

Nor are autistic people extremely highly sensitive as a rule. There are many undesirable traits to deal with. They tend to be uncoordinated in their movements, and unnatural in their body shapes. Many times there are eating disorders as well.

The fact that brothers and sisters of autistic people tend to have a much higher chance of also being autistic hints at some genetic connection, but doctors still are uncertain of the cause. Parents of autistic people tend to be normal and not have autism themselves.

Autism is a disorder associated with the brain. Since people all over the world are fascinated by the abilities of the human mind, autism is a disease that inspires great curiosity.

Epilepsy, another disease of highly dramatic characteristics that mystify the general population, is often associated with autism. Likewise, autistic people range very widely as to how obvious their abnormalities are. This is why many appear to be practically normal, while others are immediately recognized as having some disorder.

A tragedy is that treatment of autistic people is uncertain as to producing beneficial results. The cure is not known. But kindness and interaction through concentrating on the same thing as another person who accompanies that autistic one have good results both for the patient and his or her family.

Sleep problems in autistic people are so prevalent that researchers have developed theories for causes and cures related to other factors that result in trouble sleeping. But like many hypotheses about autism, this too remains to be proven.

Although "autism" may have existed for as long as people have walked the earth, the word itself is relatively recent, having originated in the Twentieth Century. The root meaning of the word is associated with "self" because early analysts observed that patients appeared withdrawn into themselves more than normal people. This harkens back to the tragic trait of loneliness that takes most of the glamor out of autism for outside observers who are fascinated by it.

More scientific reading on autism can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism.







Hollywood Takes On the Subject of Autism

The Fascination Inspired by Autism

True to form, the character played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 movie "Rainman" was self-absorbed. He was autistic. Dramatically contrasted was his so-called normal brother played by Tom Cruise, another self-centered person, but in an opposite way that qualified as acceptable behavior in the aggressive world of salesmanship.

The saving grace of the movie, which led to proceeds upwards of 350 million dollars, is the same as the human connectivity that some therapists and teachers have achieved through their innate kindness and understanding of autistic patients. The selfish brother's arrogance is softened and warmed by his increasing appreciation of his autistic sibling.

The great drama of the movie takes place when the autistic character displays the rare ability (found in a small percentage of autistic patients) to do mathematical calculations even faster than a calculator. Needless to say, this ability comes in handy in gambling casinos.

The film was so popular that the Academy Awards in 1989 awarded it Best Picture, and Dustin Hoffman Best Actor for portraying the autistic Rainman. Because the film was so spectacular, it made people fascinated with autism, although most do not realize how rare it is that an autistic person will possess the skills of Rainman. It's possible that the film contributed to the financial support from the government for research into autism and assistance for families with autistic members.

For more facts about the film itself, see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095953/.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 4 years ago from Lancashire, England

      An informative hub about an interesting and poorly understood disorder. The film is also one of my favorites!

      No surprise about the over-diagnosis in America; evidence yet again of the vested interests of pharmaceutical companies and the American Psychiatric Association.

      Voted up.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)