Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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Understanding autism

Glossary


Browse the glossary using this index

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E

Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP)

A legal document in England drawn up by the local authority, after specialist reports are obtained, which specifies the support a child or young person up to age 25 needs, particularly in school, but also from health and social care.


Embedded Figures Test

A test of the capacity to identify an individual component or shape from a visual pattern in which it is embedded.


Empathising

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).)


Empathising–systemising theory

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 Quotient (SQ).)


Epigenetic influences

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.


Evaluation

Objective assessment of an intervention, assessing its effectiveness, which people with autism might benefit from it and whether there are any side effects.


Evidence-based practice

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.


Exceptional talents

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.)


Executive function

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.



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