What is autism ?


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A guide to autism: Learn how to cope and live with autism.

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What is autism ?

  1. 1. Overview What is Autism? Is there more than one type of Autism? What causes Autism? How is Autism diagnosed? What are the characteristics of Autism? What are the most effective approaches to treating Autism? Is there a cure?
  2. 2. WHAT IS AUTISM? Very complex, often baffling developmental disability First described by Leo Kanner in 1943 as early infantile autism “Auto” – children are “locked within themselves.” For next 30 years, considered to be an emotional disturbance
  3. 3. WHAT IS AUTISM? 3 categories for autism in IDEA? Today, autism is a severe form of a broader group of disorders These are referred to as pervasive developmental disorders (later) Typically appears during the first 3 years of life
  4. 4. WHAT IS AUTISM? Very likely neurological in origin – not emotional, not the refrigerator mom Prevalence figures vary widely (textbook says 5/10,000, but recent data say as high as 1/1000 or even 1/500. 4 times more prevalent in boys No known racial, ethnic, or social boundaries No relation to family income, lifestyle
  5. 5. WHAT IS AUTISM? Autism impacts normal development of the brain in areas of social interaction and communication skills. Difficult to communicate with others and relate to the outside world. Occasionally, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present.
  6. 6. WHAT ARE THE TYPES? Actually, the “umbrella” heading is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Autism is one of the 5 PDDs. All have commonalities in communication and social deficits Differ in terms of severity
  7. 7. 1. Autistic Disorder Impairments in social interaction, communication, and imaginative play. Apparent before age 3. Also includes stereotyped behaviors, interests, and activities
  8. 8. 2. Asperger’s Disorder Impairments in social interactions, and presence of restricted interests and activities No clinically significant general delay in language Average to above average intelligence
  9. 9. 3. Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) Often referred to as atypical autism Used when a child does not meet the criteria for a specific diagnosis, but there is severe and pervasive impairment in specified behaviors
  10. 10. 4. Rett’s Disorder Progressive disorder which, to date, has only occurred in girls. Period of normal development and then the loss of previously acquired skills Also loss of purposeful use of hands, which is replaced by repetitive hand movements Beginning at age of 1-4 years
  11. 11. 5. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder Normal development for at least the first 2 years Then significant loss of previously acquired skills
  12. 12. Conclusions on Types Autism is a spectrum disorder This means that symptoms and characteristics can present themselves in wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe Autistic individuals can be very different from each other “Autism” is still commonly used to refer to any of the 5 PDDs
  13. 13. What causes (and doesn’t cause) autism? Good agreement in general that autism is caused by abnormalities in brain development, neurochemistry, and genetic factors Bettleheim’s theory of psychogenesis?
  14. 14. How is Autism Diagnosed? No definitive medical test Team uses interviews, observation, and specific checklists developed for this purpose. Team might include neurologist, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, speech/language therapist, learning consultant, etc. Must rule out MR, hearing impairment, behavior disorders, or eccentric habits
  15. 15. CHARACTERISTICS 1. Communication/Language 2. Social Interaction 3. Behaviors 4. Sensory and movement disorders 5. Resistance to change (predictability) 6. Intellectual functioning
  16. 16. 1. Communication/language Broad range of abilities, from no verbal communication to quite complex skills Two common impairments: A. Delayed language B. Echolalia
  17. 17. A. Delayed language 50% of autistic individuals will eventually have useful speech (?) Pronoun reversal: “You want white icing on chocolate cake.” Difficulty in conversing easily with others Difficulty in shifting topics Look away; poor eye contact Facilitated communication??????
  18. 18. Elements of Facilitated Communication 1. Physical Support 2. Initial training/introduction 3. Maintaining focus 4. Avoiding competence testing 5. Generalization 6. Fading
  19. 19. B. Echolalia Common in very young children (Age 3) Immediate or delayed (even years) Is there communicative intent with echolalia?
  20. 20. 2. Social Interaction One of hallmarks of autism is lack of social interaction 1. Impaired use of nonverbal behavior 2. Lack of peer relationships 3. Failure to spontaneously share enjoyment, interests, etc. with others 4. Lack of reciprocity Theory of mind?
  21. 21. 3. Behaviors Repetitive behaviors, including obsessions, tics, and perseveration Impeding behaviors (impede their learning or the learning of others) Will need positive behavior supports A. Self-injurious behavior B. Aggression
  22. 22. 4. Sensory and movement disorders Very common Over- or under-sensitive to sensory stimuli Abnormal posture and movements of the face, head, trunk, and limbs Abnormal eye movements Repeated gestures and mannerisms Movement disorders can be detected very early – perhaps at birth
  23. 23. 5. Predictability Change in routine is very stressful May insist on particular furniture arrangement, food at meals, TV shows Symmetry is often important Interventions need to focus on preparing students for change if possible
  24. 24. 6. Intellectual functioning Autism occurs in children of all levels of intelligence, from those who are gifted to those who have mental retardation In general, majority of individuals with autism are also identified as having mental retardation – 75% below 70 Verbal and reasoning skills are difficult Savant syndrome
  25. 25. Interventions 1. Individualization and early intervention are the keys 2. Include life skills, functional academics, and vocational preparation 3. Positive behavior support 4. Social stories (music therapy?) 5. Lovaas model
  26. 26. Thank you Contact Us : http://cerebrabraintech.com/ info@cerebrabraintech.com https://www.facebook.com/cerebraturbobrain
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