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Autism & Learning Difficulties.

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Study Notes - Exceptional development Autism & Learning Difficulties What is Autism? First identified by Kanner in 1943 and Asperger in 1944, autism is a severe developmental disorder, which is innate, that affects the way children process information. It has been suggested that autistic people have information coming at them all at once, which is on the whole, normal, however, autistic people find it difficult to process and sort out the information into different sensations such as colour, light, movement, sound, smell and feelings. It is therefore a disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate and form relationships with other people and affects the ability to respond appropriately to the environment. Kanner suggested that and autistic individual lives essentially, in and 'asocial state', shutting down and ignoring the world around them. Autism affects around 3 in 10,000 people yet autism is likely to affect 4 times as many boys than girls. Can you list all the possible symptoms? Although autistic individuals may not possess the same symptoms as others, they commonly share certain social, communicative, motor and sensory problems: - In terms of communication autistic people: - * Avoid eye contact - a normal child tends to study mothers face * Prefer being alone * Seem deaf - a normal child stimulated by sound easily * Start developing language and abruptly stop communicating altogether In terms of social relationships autistic people:- * Act as if unaware of people entering or leaving a room - a normal child usually cries when the mother leaves the room * Physically attack and injure others readily * Inaccessible without any form bodily or facial expression. In terms of exploration of an environment, an autistic individual:- * May remain fixed on a single item or activity and behaviour may become repetitive or ritualistic. * Practice strange actions such as waving or banging their heads on a wall. ...read more.


* Sally places a marble in her basket * Sally leaves the scene * Marble is taken out of the basket and hidden by Anne in her box. * Sally returns * Experimenter asks the Belief question: 'Where will Sally look for her marble?' * If the children said in her basket they passed the belief question because this is where Sally had left the marble before leaving the scene. * If the children say in the box (the marbles current location) the children fail the belief question. * The conclusions are warranted on the answer of the reality question: 'Where is the marble really' and the memory question: 'Where was the marble originally?' * These control questions are crucial in order to ensure that the children have an understanding of the marbles current location and the location of the, marble before Anne hid it. * Questions do not differ in psycholinguistic complexity * Questions DO differ in conceptual complexity * 23/27 of the normal children and 12/14 of the Downs syndrome children got the belief question correct * 16/20 of the autistic children failed the belief question. * The autistic group could not appreciate a difference between their own knowledge (The fact they themselves know where the marble is) and the knowledge of the doll, Sally (who thought the marble was where she left it - in the basket.) * Autistic group therefore lack a theory of mind. * This proves a big problem for autistic individuals when trying to predict other peoples behaviour Many criticisms have been made over the current theory used to explain autism. 1. Some psychologists believe it is an incomplete theory to explain autism and that it doesn't account for all the deficits associated with autism such as the ritualistic and repetitive habits. 2. The theory also fails to note some of the apparent strengths of savants. 3. ...read more.


They feel that these areas may house genes that make a person more susceptible to Autism. One main limitation of this theory is that it is hard to analyse the results from 'autistic' twins because as well as autism itself being rare, having twins with autism is even rarer. Therefore the evidence and data to support this theory cannot realistically draw conclusions. Another theory used to explain autism is the parent refrigerator hypothesis. This ideology was brought forward primarily by Leo Kanner and then, later by Bettleheim in 1967. This theory takes place during a child's development, which is a critical time in the childs life, learning about society and life in general. If the child is mistreated in terms of receiving a lack of love and affection (and possibly sexual or physical abuse - but not always the case) the child moves through a climate of emotional refrigeration. If there is a continuous lack of support for the child by the parents and the family, the child is likely to withdraw from society and become individualistic. The research which tried to prove this theory, was heavily criticised. The samples of which the study was based on was unrepresentative. The parents studied were intellectual parents which may suggest they have high profile jobs and less time with their children, earning more money to support the family. The sample was not representative because it didn't take into account the parents who are always with their children. Furthermore, it was reported that the sample size of the families studied in general were not big enough. One major limitation was the thought that if families were studied with twins. One twin may be autistic yet the other may not. However, surely if one of the twins moves suffers from emotional refrigeration, the other must also be suffering the same situation. This raises the question: why isn't the other child autistic? This could therefore make psychologists lead to believe that the genetic factor has a greater validity than that of the parent refrigeration hypothesis proposed by Bettlehiem. Daniel Borlase 13Ly A2 Psychology Revision notes - Exceptional development ...read more.

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