By Maureen Aarons;Tessa Gittens
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Extra resources for Autism: A Social Skills Approach for Children and Adolescents
This may sound alarmist, but nevertheless describes the experiences of many parents who follow false trails and inappropriate remedies because it all went wrong, right at the beginning, when mistaken conclusions were drawn. Family breakdown is now extremely common in our society, and most children with a less than ideal home background grow up without any particular problems. If there are social or behavioural difficulties, they are not qualitatively akin to autistic spectrum disorders. Yet it is unfortunately not unusual for family problems to be seen as the only possible explanation for the profile of difficulties shown by more able verbal children with autism who come from dysfunctional families.
Readers may be familiar with such terms as High Level Language Disorder, Aphasia, Attention Deficit Disorder and Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder, among others, all of which reflect perhaps a single aspect of the much wider disorder of autism. We now refer to children or individuals with autism, which supports the notion of variability, and the concept of a continuum of severity. The term Asperger Syndrome is now widely used to describe able individuals whose abilities place them at the upper end of the autistic continuum.
Autism does not go away, but presents in a variety of ways at different stages in a child's development. Because the picture does not stay the same, it is not at all unusual for a professional to meet an older child with behaviour and communication difficulties, and fail to notice the underlying social impairments. Assumptions are made on the basis of current problems without reference to the child's early history, which may hold all the diagnostic evidence. A snapshot view is always unsatisfactory.