Autism is a “spectrum” condition, this means that although all people with autism share certain difficulties, the way and intensity varies enormously from person to person.
The disorders concern the development of social, cognitive, emotional, communication skills, both gestural and verbal, interpersonal understanding and collaborative actions.
It is a syndrome or a set of observable symptoms or signs.
MAIN CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS
• Communication deficit (verbal and non-verbal communication)
• Social deficit (initiating an interaction and responding to an interaction)
• “Imagination” deficit (restricted repertoire of activities and interests and/or repetitive and stereotyped behaviors, rigidity and resistance to change)
• Other manifestations: anxiety, sensory abnormalities, executive function deficits and attention abnormalities
TYPE OF STUDENTS WITH AUTISM:
• People on the spectrum with mild support needs (Asperger’s Syndrome)
• People on the spectrum who need intensive or very intensive support
• Hypersensitivity to some sounds or noises
• Hypersensitivity to visual stimuli
• Reduced or excessive tactile sensitivity (touch discomfort)
• Particular perception of pain
• Sensitivity to olfactory and gustatory stimuli
Autistic children tend to learn more effectively in structured environments, both in terms of space and time. Structuring allows you to achieve a sense of predictability with respect to what will happen (it gives order and coherence to the experience).
• Generally children with autism get attention with dysfunctional activities
• Difficult to show why they need help
• Although they clearly have preferences, they have great difficulty reporting them in an acceptable way
• Do not express denial acceptably, being passive or reacting in problematic ways when they want to reject something
• Difficulty being around others
• They tend not to share something they have
• Reluctant to engage in social games with rules with peers. • They tend not to respect the turn or show no sense of “rhythm” in the turn
• Low tolerance for expectations
• Difficulty in inhibiting “overbearing” responses
• They may not be able to name the emotions they observe
• Difficult to learn positive social routines spontaneously
• Mimicry and gestures are often poor, not very direct to the interlocutor
• Often unable to solve social problems or respond flexibly to new situations
• Often do not react positively to unexpected events
• Short attention spans
• Difficulty shifting attention from one stimulus to another
• Preference for details
• Lack of social use of attention
STRENGTHS IN AUTISM
• Excellent visual discrimination and analysis skills, may do better in tasks mediated by visual information or based on visual memory, than tasks mediated by verbal information
• Ability to analyze and understand the rules governing closed systems: master the operating rules of mechanical systems; understand and use classification systems; achieve high scores on tests measuring the ability to systematize
• Possible extraordinary talents in areas such as drawing, math and music
At the Dr. Letizia De Mori Psychological Clinic, diagnosis is made through the administration of specific assessments (including the ADOS test), and rehabilitation and targeted intervention plans are also planned.
TREATMENTS FOR THE AUTISM SPECTRUM
• ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis): focuses on the analysis of behaviors, in order to understand the causes (antecedents) and prevent problematic reactions, providing the child with more functional alternatives, also helping to define positive reinforcements. Apply the principles of operant conditioning.
• DTT (Discrete Trial Training): fragmented complex skills are taught and each sub-skill is taught over the course of repeated sessions, through a procedure divided into three components:
the instruction or question, which constitutes the antecedent stimulus
the child’s response
the consequence to the child’s response (reinforcing stimulus)
• TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children): aims to improve the quality of life of the child, both by actively modifying the environment according to his needs, and by developing his autonomy to the maximum. • TED (La Therapie d’Echange et Developpement): aims to develop the psychophysiological functions of the child, through the principles of tranquillity, availability and reciprocity.