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autism spectrum ASD... · PDF file autism spectrum conditions Dr Liz Pellicano Centre for Research in Autism and Education autism has captured public attention overview of talk 1.

Jun 26, 2020

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  • 28/02/2012  

    1  

    autism spectrum conditions

    Dr Liz Pellicano Centre for Research in Autism and Education

    autism has captured public attention

    overview of talk

    1.  current definition of autism 2.  what we know about autism so far 3.  focus on variability – or heterogeneity – in autism in

    terms of: -  children’s autistic features -  children’s cognitive skills -  children’s sociability -  children’s academic success

    autism (as defined in DSM-IV)

    problems with social

    reciprocity

    problems with language +

    communication

    poor behavioural

    flexibility

    the “social symptoms”

    the “non-social symptoms”

    diagnostic features of autism

    §  difficulties in social relationships –  atypical use eye gaze & gesture –  difficulties developing friendships –  limited social/emotional understanding –  limited sharing

    diagnostic features of autism

    §  difficulties in communication –  language delay –  conversation often one-sided and awkward –  repetitive language –  lack of make-believe play

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    diagnostic features of autism

    §  repetitive and rigid behaviours –  preoccupations –  preference for routines –  motor mannerisms –  sensory sensitivities

    fact 1:

    autism is usually diagnosed around the age of 2-3 years and often later (6-8 years)in more verbally-able children

    fact 2:

    autism is a hidden condition

    fact 3:

    autism is a common developmental condition (1 in every 100)

    fact 2:

    autism is a common developmental condition (1 in every 100)

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    fact 4:

    there is huge variation in terms of behaviour among individuals diagnosed with the condition à the “autism spectrum”

    two case examples ...

    Jonathan: a cognitively able 8-year-old boy with

    autism, who has several intense obsessions but enjoys going to school and wants to interact with his peers

    Adam: an 8-year-old boy with an additional (mild)

    learning disability, whose language skills are very limited (much of what he says is echolalic) and who enjoys playing on his own

    the autism spectrum

    too simplistic!

    description of autism must account for level of ability & “severity”

    the definition of autism is in flux: DSM-5

    proposed changes to the DSM:

    1.  no specific diagnoses for autism, Asperger’s disorder, PDD-NOS, or childhood disintegrative disorder but

    ... a new SINGLE diagnostic category called: “Autism Spectrum Disorders”

    the definition of autism is in flux: DSM-5

    proposed changes to the DSM:

    1.  there will be TWO domains rather than three:

    -  social/communication deficits (must meet all THREE criteria)

    -  fixated interests and repetitive behaviours, including unusual sensory interests (must meet TWO out of four criteria)

    à what will be the implications of these changes for practice?

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    fact 5:

    there is also much variability at the level of cognition

    cognitive skills in autism

    autism?

    theory of mind (ToM)

    central coherence (CC) or local processing

    executive function (EF)

    Happé et al. (2006)

    a 3-year follow-up study: tracking changes over time

    22

    0 0 0

    6

    7

    1

    1

    n=37

    time 1 (~ 5 years 6 months)

    Pellicano (2010), Child Dev.

    theory of mind (ToM)

    central coherence (CC) or local processing

    executive function

    (EF)

    7

    11 1 2

    6

    4

    1

    5

    time 2 (~8 years 6 months)

    n=37

    theory of mind (ToM)

    central coherence (CC) or local processing

    executive function

    (EF)

    Pellicano (2010), Child Dev.

    fact 6:

    there is also variability in terms of the young person’s degree of sociability

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    understanding autistic friendships

    §  DSM-IV: “failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level”

    §  we saw 12 children with autism and 11 peers without autism from culturally-diverse Years 5 and 6 mainstream classrooms and asked them, their parents, their teachers and their non-autistic peers about their friendships

    F001

    F004 F002

    F003

    Caitlin

    F012

    F014

    F005

    F011

    F006

    F010

    Zane

    F009

    F008

    F026

    Lucy

    F029

    F028

    F024 F030

    F025

    F023

    F021 F022 F031

    F015

    F017 F018

    F020

    F016

    F019

    Caitlin & Zane are “central” to their social groups, while Lucy has “peripheral” status

    variability in degree of centrality in classroom social networks

    more variability ...

    §  ... in degree of autistic children’s satisfaction with, and motivation to establish and maintain, their friendships:

    “Sometimes I’ve got nobody. The two boys play with the two girls. I try to watch. I want more friends because there are no new people in the class. Only new people be my friend. The other people don’t want to be my friend” (Henry)

    vs.

    “I am happy with my life right now. I am not friendly and talkative, but I am not not friendly. I am somewhere in the middle” (James)

    eliciting the young person’s perspective...

    §  is CRITICAL to understanding the needs of individual children!

    §  we found that parents and teachers played an important and active role in supporting the autistic child’s friendships but this sometimes conflicted with what the children themselves wanted:

    “... sometimes I want to play by myself ...” (Caitlin)

    Calder, Hill, & Pellicano, in prep.

    fact 7:

    there is also variability in terms of the young person’s academic success

    maths and autism

    §  the common stereotype that people with autism are numerical geniuses persists among the research community as well as the public

    §  but we know from the FEW research studies on this topic that there is much variability (again!):

    à some children show talents in this area (up to 16%) but between 6% and 22% struggle with this aspect of the school curriculum

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    autistic children’s “number sense”

    §  the ability to know how many or much there is of something without counting it

    §  typical children have this number sense from a young age, and their performance on ‘number sense’ tasks correlates highly with maths achievement

    à could differences in this number sense explain why some autistic children are good at maths and others are not?

    measuring “number sense”

    introduction fixation

    (until child is ready)

    trial (500ms) “which side has

    more dots?” introduction

    fixation (until child is

    ready)

    trial (500ms) “which side has

    more dots?”

    “The Marbles Task”

    measuring “number sense”

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    “The Postman Pat Game”

    children with better number sense are the ones with better maths skills

    0

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    0.2

    0.3

    0.4

    0.5

    0.6

    0.7

    60 75 90 105 120 135

    "n um

    b e

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    ns e

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    e rfo

    rm a

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    score on standardized maths test

    autism

    typical

    Pellicano, Aagten-Murphy, Daniel & Burr, in prep.

    conclusions

    §  autism is a developmental condition currently defined in terms of behaviour

    §  individuals broadly share the core diagnostic features of autism ... yet there are often striking differences, in terms of (and these were just a few examples) the degree to which: §  individuals manifest autistic symptoms §  show cognitive strengths and weaknesses §  are motivated to establish and maintain friendships §  display academic skills in number processing and

    arithmetic

    conclusions

    §  the variability in autism is the norm rather than the exception …

    … which must be accounted for both in theory and in practice …

    how will this knowledge influence your practice?

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