Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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Understanding autism

Glossary


Browse the glossary using this index

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E

Experiment

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.


Expressive language

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.


Eye contact

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.


F

functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

A variant of MRI brain imaging that provides insights into how the brain functions whilst a psychological task is performed. fMRI uses changes in blood flow through the brain to give very detailed information about the brain areas where the activity is occurring, thus shedding light on the function of these regions.


Fusiform gyrus

A part of the brain in the temporal lobe, known to play an essential role in recognising faces and for differentiating between different faces, objects and emotions.


G

Generalise

Generalisation is when a skill or response is capable of transfer to a different situation or context, e.g. one that is more complex, more ‘real-life’ or involves interacting with different people.


Genes

Genes are small sections of very long molecules of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Genes contain the instructions for proteins, which in turn act as the ‘building blocks’ for the development and functioning of all living organisms.


Genetic

Refers to the influence that genes have on physical and psychological traits. Gene variants inherited from one or both biological parents influence susceptibility to autism.


Genetic heterogeneity

The term for a condition or disorder in which variants of different genes are involved in different individuals. Except in rare cases, autism is genetically heterogeneous: the genes that play a role in one individual’s autism are likely to be different from the genes involved in another individual’s autism.


H

Health extension workers (HEWs)

Within a programme launched by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in 2004, health extension workers are women who have received one year of training in delivering primary healthcare. They work in rural areas from simple health posts, providing inoculations, health advice and basic treatments.



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