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Autism Spectrum Disorders

An introduction to ASD including a
brief history, profile, implications
and opportunity for discussion

Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Developmental disorder affecting children from birth or
the early months of life.
• Exact cause remains unknown, but generally felt to be
neurological in origin, although recent research points to
possible genetic or chromosomal abnormalities as well
as viral infections, pregnancy/birth complications and/or
other causes.
• May co-exist with other medical conditions e.g. fragile X
syndrome, tuberous sclerosis.
• Often accompanied by additional learning difficulties
(about 75%).
• No single consistent explanation at the moment.

making stereotyped movements with his fingers. He wandered about smiling. crossing them about in the air.. he completely disregarded the people and instantly went for objects.When taken into a room.( Kanner 1943) .humming the same three-note tune. Resulted in identification of a separate condition – Autism.Autism Spectrum Disorder Background / History Leo Kanner (USA) Child Psychiatrist Paper published in 1943 based on study of 11 cases. preferably those that could be spun…. He shook his head from side to side. He spun with great pleasure anything he could seize upon to spin…..

1944 – published dissertation on ‘autistic psychopathy’ in took nearly 50 years before it was translated (Wing 1981) Many similarities with Kanner – use of ‘autistic’ .Autism Spectrum Disorder Background / History Hans Asperger (Austria) Physician Identified similar group. Published in German and in middle of Second World War .

Wing’s ‘Triad of Impairments’ 1988 ‘The Autistic Continuum’ 1996 ‘The Autistic Spectrum’ – broader classification .Autism Spectrum Disorder Background / History Lorna Wing – research with Judy Gould (1979) Identified ‘threads of commonality’ amongst group of children referred for psychiatric help who were socially impaired.

Behaviour and Play (Social Understanding) .Triad of Impairments Social Relationships Social Communication ASD Rigidity of Thought.

e. and may therefore not know to look contrite.g. facial expressions indicating surprise.Communication • Some children may not use spoken language to communicate. What's your name? This may mask unspoken anxieties in the child or indicate that they have not understood. squealing. and may use non-verbal means instead. anger etc.g. time (including the need to wait) • Inability to ask questions to establish another persons view point.g. . • May not understand subtle conversational clues e. more / less. They may have difficulties with their non-verbal communication as well.g. • May have difficulties with concepts e. pushing. crying • Even children with developmentally appropriate verbal skills may have problems with their use of language when talking to others (pragmatics). but may ask repetitive questions e. biting.

Literality can lead to distress e.may sound clumsy or odd .g.g.Communication • Some children may use unusual intonation with stereotypical. "its time to go outside" may mean “take your apron off. get your coat and line up at the door" but a child with ASD may think they can go straight outside and may consequently appear disobedient. “go to the toilet and wash your hands" • Repetition of chunks of language heard in other situations/videos . stilted speech (or a sing-song intonation pattern) • May have a very literal understanding of speech therefore may fail to follow a lot of classroom language e.

eye-contact) . but lack understanding and skills to carry through • Unusual facial and/or physical gestures (smiles. grimaces.Social Relationships • Child may display general awkwardness in social situations • May be unable to interact appropriately with peers • Difficulty in making friends – may initiate and want social contact.

Social Relationships • Problems with social “distance” • Child may have difficulties with conventional turn-taking and sharing. May start/finish conversations abruptly or fail to answer appropriately. • Child may not see themselves as a part of group • Motivation – may not be rewarded by success at tasks (They are not being lazy or obstinate!) .

home corner. This means that initially the child’s play skills may appear appropriate. • Imaginative and symbolic play begins to emerge at around 2 to 2 ½ years. e.g. but over time it is apparent that the child’s play sequences are not extending.g. lining toys up. role play games • Difficulty coping with adult direction and imposed routines • Difficulties with understanding changes in routine and new situations .Rigidity of thought. e. but for children with ASD their play may be repetitive and limited to specific actions. moving trains around a track • May find activities difficult when imagination or pretend skills are needed. play and behaviour • Their play may be learnt and repeated.

actions.g. e. finding an item that is not in its usual place • Seeing 'part' rather than 'whole' . play and behaviour • Some children exhibit fixed interests and may become obsessional about these • Attentional problems on tasks chosen by others • Difficulties with problem solving.g. focusing on a specific part of a picture • Rigidity of thinking and behaviour – being a ‘class policeman’ • Perseveration . e.not the 'bigger picture‘.Rigidity of thought.the need to repeat words. activities etc .

Beyond the Triad of Impairments The Sensory World of Autism • Senses provide us with the unique experiences which allow us to interact & be involved with others • Senses play a significant role in determining our responses to a particular situation • Many individuals with autism experience either an intensification or absence of sensory integration Hyper— Hypo— .

pain. gouging etc.) Finds touch painful/uncomfortable (Social aspect) Sensitivity to certain clothing/textures Dislike of having things on hands/feet .The Sensory World of Autism The Five Senses • Touch (includes balance and body awareness) Tactile: relates to touch . hot/cold HypoHyper- Holding others tightly High pain threshold Self-harming (biting.pressure.

swinging.Difficulties in activities which include movement (sport.spinning Hyper.The need for rocking. dance) activity Difficulties in stopping quickly or during an .The Sensory World of Autism The Five Senses • Touch (includes balance and body awareness) Vestibular: informs where body is in space Hypo.

manipulating small objects (buttons. shoe laces etc).The Sensory World of Autism The Five Senses • Touch (includes balance and body awareness) Proprioception: where & how body is moving Hypo. threading. .Fine motor difficulties. Navigating rooms – avoiding obstructions. Hyper. Moves whole body to look at something.Proximity – personal body space in relation to others.

space Hypo.The Sensory World of Autism The Five Senses • Sight Visual: helps to define objects. Focussing on particular detail (rather than .Peripheral vision (central vision blurred) Poor depth perception (throwing/catching) Hyper-Fragmentation of images (too many sources) whole). colours.

Partial or complete absence of hearing Enjoys noisy places/activities (bangs things) Hyper.The Sensory World of Autism The Five Senses • Hearing Auditory: informs about sounds around us Hypo.Magnification or distortion of sounds Unable to filter out external sounds .

May be oblivious to strong odours May lick things indiscriminately Hyper.The Sensory World of Autism The Five Senses • Smell Olfactory: Is the first sense we rely on Hypo.Smells appear intensified/overpowering. Toileting problems .

Prefers bland (white) food Texture of food may be problematic (lumps) . material etc) Hyper. grass.The Sensory World of Autism The Five Senses • Taste Gustatory: Informs about various tastes Hypo.Likes very spicy/salted foods May eat anything (soil.

) 133.500 (based on 2001 census – UK under-18 population of 13.The National Picture Estimated population of ASD (whole spectrum) in the UK National Autistic Society estimated the prevalence at 1:100 No.354.297 . of children with ASDs under 18 (est.

Mainstream & Special School pupils from pre-school to Post 16 Rotherham incidence: slightly higher (approx 650 children with diagnosed ASDs . Numbers of pupils in each regional Local Authority with ASDs.The Local Picture October 2006 – Yorks & Humbs ASD Regional Partnership Benchmarking questionnaire.

Discussion Points • • • • Implications for education Implications for families Support networks (schools) Support networks (families) • Any other questions? .