Leo Kanner (1943), Hans Asperger (1944) and Lorna Wing, are all names synonymous with the study if the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (A.S.D). Autism is a condition where the brain is developmentally challenged in a variety of ways to each person with the condition. It covers a spectrum of conditions or labels such as Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and PDDNOS (pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified). The variety of ways a person with autism may be affected is described by Donna Williams as a ‘Fruit salad’ (Williams P.16) An Australian autism consultant, Donna herself is autistic. According to her there are many ingredients or fruits, and people may have any combination of fruits in their ‘own particular salad’.
She lists the most important development challenges as:
How we relate to each other.
Looking after ourselves
Communicating our ideas and experiences
Taking on new experiences
Imaginary and abstract thinking
Making sense of ourselves.
The most common description of autism is known as the ‘triad of impairment’. (National autistic society)- Social interaction, social communication, and imagination. Autism is believed to be genetic, although particular genetic codes affected have not been identified. It may be that it is genetic condition that is ‘triggered’ by other influences. (Astor P66).
Autism has only relatively recently been studied and diagnosis can still be delayed with adverse effects for the child. According to Brealy and Davies early intervention can be extremely beneficial as it can stop some habits from becoming too fixed and can reduce the accumulation of problem behaviours. What is recognised is that each autistic child can only be helped by examining his/her particular combination of abilities and disabilities, as well as any complicating medical conditions and producing an individual plan of intervention, unique to that child.