Autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterised by varying degrees of difficulty in social interaction and communication, as well as the tendency to perform repetitive behaviours. Up to 40% of people with autism spectrum disorder have an intellectual capacity equal to or greater than the average. People with high intellectual functioning tend to suffer fewer social adaptation problems, but in others, the symptoms may be more severe and they may not develop language or might display repetitive behaviours that interfere with daily life.
- Signs or symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Difficulties with social interaction in autism spectrum disorder
Children who develop normally are social by nature. They usually look at people’s faces, show interest in voices, grab people’s fingers, even smile from the age of 2 or 3 months. On the contrary, most children with an autism spectrum disorder have difficulties in habitual interactions. Therefore, at 8-10 months, they tend to have less interest in people, respond less to their name and do not babble. Later, they often have difficulties in social games, do not imitate others and prefer to play alone. Both children and adults with autism have difficulty interpreting what others think or feel. This difficulty in seeing things from other people’s point of view can interfere with their ability to predict or understand the actions of others. They also have difficulties regulating emotions and may display aggressive behaviour.
Difficulties in communication in autism spectrum disorder
At the age of 3, most children can already create sentences and have exceeded all language development goals. Children are expected to babble before the age of 12 months, and to use one or two words by the age of one. In addition, they usually display expressions or verbalisations of dislike when they are offered something they don’t like or don’t want.
In autism spectrum disorder there is a delay in language development and the use of gestures to communicate. In most cases, language takes longer to develop and children do not start talking until much later than expected, with peculiar characteristics. They might also develop a very rich vocabulary and talk insistently about their favourite topics, but without giving other people the chance to comment or intervene. Children with autism have difficulty understanding body language and have a hard time understanding irony or sarcasm.
Repetitive behaviours in autism spectrum disorder
Unusual repetitive behaviours appear in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), such as fluttering hand movements, rocking, jumping on the spot, spinning, circling around objects, running up and down the hallway, again and again. Other repetitive behaviours can be placing objects in a certain way, or repeating sounds, words or phrases.
Routine in most activities of daily life is also affected in children with autism, so any small changes can be very stressful and trigger behavioural alterations.
They are often excessively interested in numbers, symbols, schedules, dates, transportation routes or scientific topics.
Cognitive behavioural therapy brings together two types of therapeutic treatments, because although behavioural therapies are successful in the treatment of some pathologies, other aspects involved in the way in which people respond to different situations have to be taken into account.
Music therapy is one of the treatment options available at the Guttmann Brain Health Institute, for both adult and paediatric patients affected by neurological injuries or diseases at different stages within the rehabilitation process.
Social skills training is aimed at children and adolescents who have difficulties in interpersonal relationships and in handling different social situations, either because they have a disorder that justifies these issues.