Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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Understanding autism

Glossary


Browse the glossary using this index

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M

Mental states

Refers to a person’s beliefs, memories, desires, intentions and feelings.


Multiple-baseline study

A study, usually with a small number of participants, often in the same setting, who start the intervention after having been observed beforehand for differing lengths of time. For example one may start the intervention after 3 weeks, one after 5 weeks and one after 7 weeks. If each is seen to respond positively to the intervention this provides evidence that it is effective and the changes seen are not due to another factor.


Multiplex families

Families with more than one child/family member on the autism spectrum. The fact that autism quite commonly affects several family members provides strong evidence that genetic factors play a role in causing autism.


Mutations

Changes in the sequence of units making up the genes in a person’s DNA. Sometimes parts of a gene may become duplicated, deleted or changed in other ways. Such genetic variation will affect the proteins that are coded for by the DNA, influencing how parts of the body, including the nervous system develop, with consequent effects on behaviour or traits.


N

National Autism Plan for Children (NAPC)

A UK framework for the identification, assessment, diagnosis and access to early interventions for pre-school and primary school aged children with autism spectrum conditions.


National Autistic Society (NAS)

The National Autistic Society was founded in 1962 as an organisation for people with autism, their families and carers. It provides advice and support for families and autistic individuals, promotes exchange of ideas and information, pioneers important national and international initiatives and raises public consciousness about the needs of people on the autism spectrum.


Naturalistic interventions

A term describing interventions that support the development of target skills within a child's everyday environment, or in naturally occurring situations. They may employ some behavioural principles, but are more child-centred than adult-directed. (See also adult-directed approach; child-centred approach.)


Neurobiology

The branch of science which focuses on the biology of the nervous system – the structure and functioning of the brain and the nerves which run throughout the body taking signals to and from the brain.


Neurodiversity

The idea that the kinds of difference seen in conditions such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia arise from natural genetic variation within the population and should be regarded as a normal aspect of human existence, not as something pathological that needs to be treated or cured.


Neurons

A cell type in the brain and nervous system, which is specialised for processing and transmitting information. Neurons have long thin fibres which collectively make up the nerves of the body.



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