Understanding Autism

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The purpose of this assignment is to outline the history, aetiology and prevalence of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Moreover, it will critically examine current legislation, cognitive and affective theories and will ultimately demonstrate the utility of such theory being put into practice in the writer’s given field of work. For the purpose of this assignment the words Autism and ASD will be used interchangeably and any names used will be pseudonyms.

The field of Autism has developed significantly over the past few years and there has been much research since its discovery over 60 years ago (Wolff 2004). Nevertheless, it is actually still in its infancy and there is a long way to go towards fully understanding the condition known as Autism, which to a great extent remains very much a mystery. As more children are diagnosed with Autism and with an augmented interest and awareness from professionals working within the field, this has ultimately led to a greater demand for information and knowledge, not only from professionals but also from parents and individuals affected by Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Zager 2005).

ASD affects the way a person communicates and limits their ability to relate to others in a meaningful way; it is a lifelong developmental disorder that emerges in early childhood. It varies from person to person and many of the features will change with age and maturity (Bergman 2005). It is identified by three distinguishing primary impairments in language, social skills and behavioural flexibility, which are referred to as the Triad of Impairments (Cashin & Barker 2009). Additionally, the primary characteristics that define ASD are often compounded by a learning disability and associated features such as self-injury and/or aggression, repetitive traits, unusual sensory responses, abnormalities in eating, drinking or sleeping and a compelling need for routine (Bergman 2005). It is also often present in conjunction with a co morbid...
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