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education programme run by the UK National Autistic Society (NAS), providing
support and encouragement and promoting good practice for parents of newly diagnosed
children aged under five years on the autism spectrum. EarlyBird Plus is for
parents of children aged four to eight years.
Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI)
An intervention for pre-school children on the autism spectrum, using a range of behavioural techniques based on Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) principles. Early forms of intervention such as EIBI have proved very effective with some children. However, intensity for the child and demands on parents are issues for consideration.
The repetition of
words, phrases or sentences just spoken by others, in a 'parrot-like' fashion.
Echolalia is common in individuals on the autism spectrum, and also occurs in
conditions such as schizophrenia and Tourette's syndrome. In autism, the
repetition may be immediate or delayed.
Embedded Figures Test
A test of the
capacity to identify an individual component or shape from a visual pattern in
which it is embedded.
Empathy is broadly
defined as the capacity to understand and 'enter into' another person's
emotions. Empathising has been defined by Baron-Cohen as recognising what
someone else is feeling and responding appropriately. This may mean feeling the
same emotion yourself, e.g. feeling sad when someone else is, and/or showing
them that you recognise their emotion, e.g. by trying to comfort them. (See
also Empathy Quotient (EQ), Empathising-systemising theory, Systemising and
Systemising Quotient (SQ).)
A theory formulated
by Baron-Cohen, which proposes that autism is characterised by limited empathising
ability, combined with enhanced systemising.
Empathy Quotient (EQ)
A questionnaire based
measure of empathising devised by Baron-Cohen and colleagues. A person’s overall
test score on the EQ is assumed to reflect their ability to empathise. Each
member of a population can receive a low, high or average score. On average,
females tend to score highest whereas people on the autism spectrum generally
have the lowest scores, although there is also considerable overlap. (See also
Empathising, Empathising-systemising theory, Systemising and Systemising
Most of a person’s
inherited characteristics are due to the sequences of units within the genes
making up their DNA, these changing from one generation to the next. Epigenetic
influences refer to additional changes in genes which are not due to changes in
the DNA sequence, but involve the addition or removal of small molecules to the
outside of the gene. These may determine whether the gene is ‘switched on’ or
‘switched off’, thus affecting whether a characteristic coded by the gene is
expressed or not.
Objective assessment of an intervention, assessing its effectiveness,
which people with autism might benefit from it and whether there are any side
The approach widely
advocated in medicine, clinical psychology and psychiatry emphasising that
interventions and other clinical application must be informed by evidence
obtained in robust research evaluations.
In relation to autism, this refers to an outstanding talent, often in the context of other difficulties. The talent may have appeared in early childhood, without having been taught or without the hours of practice which are regarded as required to develop a skill. (See also Savant talent.)
A collective term for mental processes which control behaviour, such as planning, paying attention and being able to transfer attention from one task to another, inhibiting inappropriate responses, remembering and manipulating pieces of information, problem solving and generating new activities and ideas.
A way of
systematically gathering evidence, whether about the physical world or about
psychological processes and behaviour. By varying one aspect of the situation,
whilst holding all others constant (as far as possible) the effects of the
change can be measured and a cause-effect relationship established.
Psychological experiments usually involve comparing one group of participants
(the experimental group) against a control group.
Language that a person produces, typically in written or spoken form. Expressive language difficulty means that the person has delay and/or difficulty in producing language. The person's spoken language will be sparse in vocabulary and/or grammatically and syntactically incorrect. The person is likely to have difficulty in putting thoughts into words, and in using language appropriately in different settings. Difficulty with expressive language is common on the autism spectrum, and is often accompanied by receptive language difficulty.
Occurs when two people look at each other’s eyes at the same time, enabling the exchange of social and emotional information, as well as signalling staging in conversation and attention.