Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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Understanding autism

Glossary


Browse the glossary using this index

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Accreditation

Formal acknowledgment that an organisation or service is committed to understanding autism and making appropriate adjustments to accommodate it.

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Adaptive functioning

The ability to employ the practical, everyday skills needed to function, including the skills necessary to effectively and independently take care of oneself and to interact with other people.

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Adult-directed

A term describing interventions in which an adult (parent or therapist) decides which of a child’s skills are targeted for development or enhancement. (See also child-centred approach.)

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Adult outcomes

A term used for what happens to children with autism once they have become adults. It encompasses psychological and social outcomes, including changes in language processing and use, independence and mental health.

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Amygdala

An almond-shaped structure in the brain located under the cerebral hemispheres. It has an important role in evaluating the emotional significance of external events and in regulating associated behavioural responses such as flushing, trembling or sweating when frightened.

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Animal-assisted interventions

The use of domestic and wild animals (pets or dolphins for instance) to reduce stress, focus attention and improve communication in people with autism. As yet the evidence that this is effective is unclear, although it may be beneficial for some.

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Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA)

A group of comprehensive behavioural interventions evolved from an approach pioneered by Ivar Lovaas and based on the work of Skinner. ABA employs operant conditioning and reinforcement to shape the person’s behaviour, aiming to increase ‘desirable’ behaviours and reduce ‘undesirable’ behaviours. (See also operant conditioning and reinforcement).

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Asperger syndrome

A term which has been used in the diagnosis of people on the spectrum who are intellectually capable and with many intact language skills. The main diagnostic classifications, DSM and ICD, are relinquishing this and other sub-types of autism, following recognition that they cannot be reliably distinguished.

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Assistive technology

The use of technological aids, such as smartphones, video modelling or robots, to assist people with autism or learning difficulties in daily living or to learn new skills.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

A condition characterised by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Although not linked to intelligence, ADHD may disrupt learning.

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