Autism and Autistic Behaviours
Over the past years, autism has become increasingly well-known to the general public with sharply rising numbers of children diagnosed as showing autistic behaviours.
It is unclear to what extent this is due to a real increase of autism or an increase in diagnosis, - 200% even 700% in some areas, with an overall agreed percentage of 1 in 150 children (Fombonne 2003, Baird 2004). It is also possible that autism may be much more common than once thought.
What is Autism?
Autism is a disorder of variable severity that includes profound communication difficulties and puzzling/ challenging behaviours. It is characterised by
* a severe social impairment in early childhood: this is the core symptom of autism, though not its cause, which is due to
* a lack of a sense of being a person as well as of others as human beings, i.e. a severe disorder of intersubjectivity
* impairment of the normal sense of emotional curiosity about + desire for relationships, i.e. not relating to a living person, but merely to a source of sensory stimulation
The Autism Debate
Despite the fact that there is one single word/ term, which seems to suggest that we know what 'autism' is, it is however far from unambiguously clear what 'autistic' means and what exactly we mean when talking about 'autism'.
The controversy centres around
a) What exactly is the nature of the core impairment?
b) Where is the core damage located, - in the brain or the mind?
More Information on Autism
Our website ReachingAutism.org contains more background material on autism in young children.
The Mifne Center website also has useful information and background material on early intervention.
Empowering Parents Through Family Centred Intervention