Miss Rogers

Symptoms of Autism

  • Easily distracted
  • Repetitive movements E.G hand flapping
  • Can't read expressions
  • Awkward in social situations
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What Is Autism and its symptoms?

Autism is a Disorder more common in boys than girls (4:1 ratio)

The symptoms are:

  • Can't read expressions
  • Repetitive movements
  • Lack in one area but specialise in another
  • Awkward in social situations
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Lack of Joint Attention

Where both an infant and another person focus on the same thing and each other, this usually involves pointing and gazing. Autistics lack this.

Eg. Mother and baby with the cat, the autistic child will not point at the cat with her

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Triad of impairments

  • Social interaction
  • Language
  • Symbolic or imaginative play

A diagnosis of autism is given if a child lacks in 1 of the 3 areas.


To see if the 3 symptoms could mean autism is a syndrome

The results were that the triad of impairments can be considered as a syndrome

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Explanations for autism

Cold Parenting = It is the refrigerator mother's fault if their child is autistic as they feel unwanted

  • this is offensive to the loving mothers
  •  there is no real evidence for it
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Biological Explanations

Genetics = if someone in a family has autism, it is more likely that another person will. 90% of MZ twins have it, less DZ twins do because they are only 50% shared genes

Neurological correlates = A damaged area of the brain, PET scans and post-mortems help to prove this explanation.

  • Methodological factors can affect this explanation
  • MRI is the most advanced neuroimaging technique
  • Advances in technology allow us to look more in depth
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Cognitive Explanations

Lack of theory of mind = seeing things from another person's perspective and understanding how the mind works

Baron Cohen - Sally Anne Test. only 20% of autistics were correct

Central Coherence Deficit = 

  • No general meaning
  • Doesn't look at overall picture


Embedded figure in another picture, autistics were faster at finding the embedded figure (cuboid in a square)

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Cognitive Explanations

Impaired Executive Functioning =

Executive functions are used when we multitask or change plans, autistics find this more difficult to do as they like to stick to repetitive routines and behaviours.


Cards are sorted by colour, shape or number. The cards are then unknowingly changed around, people with a good executive function will notice, however austistics will not notice

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Treatments for Autism (There's no cure)

Behaviour Modification - OPERANT CONDITIONING which means rewards and punishments are used (reinforcement)

Aversion Therapy - Self injuring for example if someone is banging their head, they will get a shock, which will then make them do another bad behaviour, consequently unaffective

Language Training - Shaping the behaviour with OPERANT CONDITIONING (rewards and punishments) Lovaas uses food as reinforcement

Paternal Involvement - they act as co-therapists

Drug Therapy - Drugs that calm them down so the parents can have a rest for a few weeks and the childs symptoms will decrease

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