Introduction

Case study Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a development proper affecting many children. Kim Peek was born with mental disabilities, specifically, damaged to the cerebellum which meant a potential limited mental capacity. When Kim Peek was born in the early 1950s, services for students with special needs were in their infancy, and important breakthroughs such as IDEA had not yet taken place.

Kim Peek Case Study

At a young age, Kim Peek was likely to be institutionalized after harshly diagnosed with mental retardation and other mental disabilities. As a result, the state suggested Kim’s family institutionalize him and “forget about him”. However, as a supportive loving family, Kim’s father refused to institutionalize him and took him home (Pilkington, 2009).

Although Kim had motor skills issues considering, damaged cerebellum, and difficulty with eye hand coordination and required a cornucopia of patience and support, Fran Peek, his father, supported him along the way, never giving up. For example, “Fran Peek, however, refused to accept that advice [of institutionalizing him] — after all, by the age of two Kim could already read and memories books. For the following 56 years, Fran acted as his son’s primary care, … (Pilkington, 2009).”

Hence, amazingly, once considered mentally retarded, Kim became widely known for his mental capacity, even comparing him to Google. For example, Kim Peek, was able to archive great things with the support of his father, even being able, “…to memories to the word up to 12,000 books, including the Bible and the Book of Mormon” (Pilkington, 2009).

I find it very interesting that Kim was able to change significantly, considering what was expected of him as an Autistic, or mentally retarded person. What makes it even more interesting, and perhaps even upsetting, is how many children were not spared as Kim did. Furthermore, students with, likely, fewer symptoms or hardships, were institutionalized and were never able to live their lives with their families as Kim did.

Doctors during those times suggested, “…that the infant Kim would never be able to speak or learn and should be taken out of society (Pilkington, 2009).” What did those doctors think or do, after Kim become such a phenomenon in the subsequent years? Interesting to see that.

Kim Peek’s story is a great inspirational story, not only for teachers in the modern and diverse classroom but for all humankind. With his father’s care and support, Kim lived a more than average life.

His story serves to prove to parents, as well as educators that with care, dedication, and support students with special needs can have the same advantages as the general population. Though many may not be limited simply by definition, but rather, may be supported by their individual needs.

Kim Peek overcame very overwhelming odds, able to save “terabytes” of data in his head, and later connecting facts to go beyond the information saved. However, although part of his brain was damaged, doctors were not able to figure out his brain.

A one-point diagnosis with autism later overturned; was only one of the challenges faced by scientists. For instance, “Scientists remained intrigued by signs that over the years he seemed to acquire greater cognitive skills to interpret facts – something assumed to be lacking in savants” (Pilkington, 2009). Nasa, and other teams of scientists, studied Kim’s brain, intrigued with how he evolved unexpectedly, without a clear explanation.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a brain disorder that may normally be detected at an early age. The specific causes of ASD have been attributed to genetic as well as environmental factors. However, there have been numerous studies, who have later been disproved by solid evidence.

 “The theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved. Multiple studies have shown that vaccination to prevent childhood infectious diseases does not increase the risk of autism in the population (NINDS, 2015).”

There are various factors that may cause ASD, with solid evidence to support it. The general health of the mother during pregnancy has been attributed to the development of ASD of the fetus. For example, “Some harmful substances ingested during pregnancy also have been associated with an increased risk of autism (AS, 2015).”

Among the various health factors, prenatal vitamins during the early stages of pregnancies have been determined to serve as a preventive measure.

Proper Nutrition

Lack of vitamins or proper nutrition has been determined to be factors, considering how ASD is associated with the development of the brain, Folic acid during the early stages of pregnancy plays a role in the development of ASD, many studies suggest.

Proper Nutrition
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Proper Nutrition

Among all the health factors, “A new study supports growing evidence that prenatal folic acid (vitamin B-9) significantly reduces the risk of autism (AutismSpeaks, 2013).” Hence, the impact of folic acid on the development of the fetus, illustrates the overall importance of the health of the mother during pregnancy affects the development of ASD of the child.

Parental Genetics

Maternal health is one of the many factors associated with the development of ASD. However, another more difficult to predict and/or control is the genetic factor of the parents.

Genes play a very important role in the development of ASD. For example, “Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop ASD…Children who have a sibling with ASD are at a higher risk of also having ASD (CDC, 2015).” Therefore, considering all the evidence, it is proper to suggest that ASD may be hereditary.

Parental Genetics
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Genetics

As a result, there are genetic factors that may alter the development of the fetus, significantly altering the development of the brain ultimately causing ASD. However, there is a connection between the health of the mother as well as their genes. Studies suggest that “Children born to older parents are at greater risk for having ASD (CDC, 2015).”

Conclusion

Thus, older parents may, potentially, be at higher risks of having children with ASD due to both their overall health as well as the development of genetic conditions.

Although there is clearly no “cure” or a way to prevent it, as educators, using the case of Kim Peek as an example. We must always strive to offer all the students an individual perspective of the world. The mental capacity of students with special needs is not written in stone and is unpredictable. Therefore, we must never underestimate anyone in the process.

References

(2015, 07 15). Causes. Retrieved from Autism Society: http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/causes/

AutismSpeaks. (2013, 02 02). More Evidence that Folic Acid Reduces Autism Risk. Retrieved from Autism Speaks: https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/more-evidence-folic-acid-reduces-autism-risk

CDC. (2015). Research. Retrieved from CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/research.html

NINDS. (2015, 09). Autism Spectrum Disorder Fact Sheet. Retrieved from NIH: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm

Pilkington, E. (2009, 12 22). The real Rain Man dies of a heart attack in the hometown of Salt Lake City, aged 58. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/dec/22/kim-peek-rain-man-dies

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