Autism & Asperger's Syndrome
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication. Individuals with autism have difficulty reacting appropriately to the world around them. For example, they may have difficulty handling changes in a typical routine or play with toys and objects in unusual ways. Many experience global cognitive deficits and language delays. Speech is often characterized by echolalia, scripting, and atypical prosody. Repetitive behaviors or intense interests may also be displayed. Sensory processing and motor skills are often affected. Characteristics of this disorder, and their severity, can present very differently for each individual with autism.
Asperger’s Syndrome was first described in the 1940’s by an Austrian pediatrician, Hans Asperger, for whom the disorder is named. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome demonstrate mild autistic-like behaviors and difficulty with social and communication skills, but have average or above average intelligence and normal language development. Because of its similarities, many professionals consider it a less severe form of autism. Some common characteristics of Asperger’s include the following:
- social awkwardness
- difficulty understanding conventional rules of social interactions
- showing a lack of empathy
- using inappropriate eye contact
- difficulty understanding body language or gestural cues
- demonstrating eccentric or repetitive behaviors
- unusual preoccupations or rituals, such as getting dressed in a specific order
- limited range of interests, sometimes with an intense interest in one area
- difficulty understanding abstract concepts, such as irony and humor
Parent Training for Autism
For children with autism, it is important that the concerns, priorities and perspectives of the family are incorporated to actively shape treatment planning. According to research, all of the comprehensive intervention programs with the best treatment outcomes include a strong family component. Using a team approach to include all of the individuals and professionals involved in the child with autism’s life, we can provide the consistency, intensity, and support needed to see more effective treatment outcomes. It is important for family members to be supported to be effective members of the child’s team. Families need to be provided with the opportunity to learn strategies for teaching their child new skills and reducing problem behaviors.
Critical Thinking & Social Skills
People with autism have communication deficits in their capacity for joint attention to objects and events with other people and in their ability to understand the symbolic function of language.
Pragmatics is the study of social thinking. It includes communicative intent, turn-taking, topic maintenance, and emotional inference, while incorporating past knowledge and cultural rules.