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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Introduction to Autism

                                                                                                       Ms Indu Chaswal

Autism Spectrum Disorders refers to a group of neuro behavioral disorders characterized by impairments in Social Communication and accompanied with stereotypic patterns of thought and behavior. The term Spectrum is used to refer to the varied characteristics. These range from mild social communication issues to severity in symptoms and learning difficulties. Typically Autism appears in the first three years of life and is a life long developmental disorder. Eighty percent affected are males; it is a population based disorder and therefore occurs across all communities in the world in the same manner and incidence.
In the eighties Lorna Wing coined the term “Triad of Impairments” to define ASD. According to her, in the population of the developmentally disabled there are some persons who exhibit a range of symptoms that can be classified as difficulties under the following three areas-
 1. Qualitative impairment in Language and communication.
Individuals may show following symptom under this are given below-
Delay, deviances (unusual) or total lack of spoken language accompanied with an extreme lack of usage of alternative modes of communication, like gestures, eye gaze, body postures etc.
·         In individuals having speech there may be oddities like –
·         Echolalia- repeating what others say . example- when asked “ what is your name?’, the child may answer “ what is your name”
·         Pronoun reversal- use” I “for others and “You” for addressing self.
·         They may use language in a repetitive manner and keep repeating a phrase, sentence or a question again and again.
·         Speak in monotonous manner without any variation in the intonation. There speech often sounds flat, too loud or too soft.
·         An inability to understand abstract language .Words like kindness, Powerful, Pity may be difficult to Understand. Proverbs, jokes, sarcasm and idioms are difficult to understand.
·         Literal understanding of language.
2.       Qualitative Impairment in Social Interactions-
·         Limited eye contact or difficulty in making and sustaining eye contact.
·         Does not respond to name when called, appears as if deaf.
·         Does not play with peer group appropriately.
·         Has difficulty in understanding, expressing and responding to emotions.
·         Does not bring or show anything of interest to others.
·         Plays alone.
·         Does not learn simple social behaviors like waving bye, greeting, turn taking, waiting etc easily by imitation.

3.       Inflexibility in thought and Behavior
o   Plays with parts of toys like wheels of a car, strings, push buttons, spinning things etc.
o   Takes interest in unusual activities and items like lining up, stacking things .the interest is extreme in intensity and focus.
o   Moves body in a stereotypic manner – rocking back and forth, flapping hands, flicking fingers, spinning etc.
o   Extreme need for sameness, resisits changes in routines.
o   Performs non functional rituals and routines like wanting to do activities in the same order, choosy about clothes and food etc.
o   Seems Unaware of dangers and may be scared of otherwise safe things like a balloon, candle, stuffed toy etc.
o   May laugh or cry suddenly for no obvious reason.

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