Section 1: Understand what is meant by ‘autism’
Q1: Describe the following social and communication disorders: (1.1)
a) Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC)
There are a variety of different social and communication disorders which can affect the main aspects of an individual’s life. One of these disorders is autism, an umbrella term that includes a range of conditions often affecting a person’s ability to form relationships and manage repetitive and obsessive behaviours as well as their communication skills. The three most common examples of autism are autism spectrum condition (ASC), asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism (HFA). The origin of autism spectrum condition is disputed, although theorists suggest that ASC can be genetic or caused by environmental factors, such as wellbeing in the womb, during birth, early infancy and through childhood. ASC features the common characteristics for those with autism, which suggests why it is often referred to as just ‘autism’. These include, as previously listed, a limited social, emotional and communication skill set as well as a tendency to engage in obsessive and repetitive behaviour. ASC is known as a ‘social’ disorder or disability and can also include cognitive delays, rigid behaviour and
Sensory Processing Disorder. To further elaborate on cognitive delays, the term cognitive can be described as ‘the mental or intellectual process or action by which people think, reason, understand ideas and remember things’
b) Asperger syndrome
Asperger’s syndrome can be relatively difficult to diagnose due to its appearance of being similar to mainstream every day responses and behaviour and this means that some individuals may never get diagnosed. Despite it being a milder type of Autism spectrum disorder, it is more lacking in regards to language and developmental delays in comparison to other autism disorders.
c) High-functioning autism
It can be hard to distinguish Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism (HFA) which makes it difficult for medical professionals to practically diagnose. Although it is quite similar to Asperger’s syndrome, those with HFA may also show some of the features of ASC, such as the limited social skills, obsessive interests and emotional responses; some of these can also appear to be inappropriate. In despite of this, it is seen that those with HFA tend to be significantly more intelligence than the average person, resulting in a more likely chance of them taking on more professional positions in their careers, such as going into education, ICT or industry. This clearly shows a benefit for career progression and this is most likely down to the greater tendency and ability to take further interest in one or more activities and therefore encouraging study, progress and excellence.
Q2: Explain how autism can be considered as a spectrum condition. (1.2)
The simple definition of autism is a ‘social’ disorder or disability which can mean an individual has limited ability in forming relationships, managing repetitive and obsessive behaviours as well as their communication skills. A ‘spectrum’ is defined as a group or category of behaviour that includes certain key features, although with important differences within, that range from mild to severe. Features of autism will differ significantly depending on the individual and how the individual experiences the
‘triad of impairments’: communication, social interaction and repetitive or obsessive behaviour. Autism will affect the individual on how they perceive themselves, others and the environment around them, as well as their ability to function and access benefits from the services and activities within the wider community.
Q3: Explain why it is important to recognise that autism is a lifelong condition. (1.3)
Although 1 in 59 children get diagnosed with autism, it can still be difficult hearing that there is no cure. It is important that regardless of thoughts and feelings, that the child is made aware of the situation and are kept educated and supported. This helps them towards thriving and adapting in the situation with the life long condition. In some cases, a person may not want to accept the fact their condition, or another’s condition, is incurable, and this can lead to false hope and assumptions. This can be dangerous, from denying support and care to stunting growth and social development. It can also lead to others’ views being warped as well as the person’s own, they may experience feelings of being ‘ill’ or ‘different’ and as if they can change to cure their condition. If a person feels they are the ones that need to change, it restricts the view that society needs to ensure appropriate adjustments to enable people with different needs to succeed.