By Maureen Aarons
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Extra resources for The Handbook of Autism, 2nd Edition: A Guide for Parents and Professionals
The immunisation programme (and in particular the measles component of the MMR vaccine) has been blamed by many parents for the apparent increase of autism, as well as pre-natal scanning, technological approaches to childbirth, and environmental pollutants. Many children with autism have a history of allergies of various kinds, including asthma. It is not uncommon for children with autism to suffer from epilepsy, although sometimes its onset is delayed until adolescence. This association between the two conditions indicates the presence of overt organic brain dysfunction and again provides evidence of a biological basis for autism.
Such difficulties that remain appear very subtle. This should encourage parents to understand that a diagnosis of autism is not invariably a ‘no hope – doom and gloom’ prospect, and that the situation is by no means as rigid and predetermined as some of the literature on autism may suggest. 28 5 UNDERSTANDING AND ASSESSING CHILDREN WITH AUTISM In this chapter we are going to describe different aspects of autism in an attempt to provide a framework for looking at the whole child and evaluating his/her individual difficulties as well as skills and abilities.
The needs of the two groups are very different, both in terms of management and possible medication. Verbal children with autism may make factual comments or talk endlessly about topics which are of interest to them, yet be unable to join in reciprocal conversation satisfactorily. Less seriously affected children may show only the subtlest evidence of this characteristic. In some children the repetitive activities appear to have a degree of creativity – for example, in drawing, pattern-making or even building and model-making.