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Friday 28th October 2016

Autism and a life of difficult relationships

29th May 2009

Telegraph Medical Editor Rebecca Smith discusses autism: a life of difficult relationships.

Autism is now called a spectrum disorder, the change reflecting the fact that people can have a range of symptoms.

Characterised by difficulty with social interaction and emotions, it is a lifelong disability.

Symptoms may be mild or severe and may or may not involve learning difficulties.

The symptoms may emerge at an early age, possibly with no words by the age of 16 months or the loss of language at any time.

While autism can be picked up at an early age, those with a milder form often do not have their symptoms recognised until they start school with a diagnosis usually made by psychiatrists, clinical psychologists or paediatricians.

Asperger’s has also been recognised as a spectrum disorder within the last two decades with sufferers having fewer speech and communication problems and often displaying high levels of intelligence. What remains clear is difficulty reading emotions.

Because it co-exists with other problems, autism can require expert opinion to diagnose with a number of typical tests available for the child.

These can be coupled with other diagnostic tests, involving parent questionnaires, teacher rating scales, problem solving, speech, fine manipulation skills, attention, engagement with tasks and emotions.


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