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.


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.


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.)


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.


Affinitiy

A natural liking for and understanding of someone or something


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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


Attention to detail

A cognitive style especially associated with autism characterised by focusing closely on the specifics or details of task rather than the overall picture.


Autism Diagnostic Interview - Revised (ADI-R)

An interview designed for use with the parents of children or adults who are being assessed for an autism spectrum diagnosis. The ADI comprises questions about the offspring’s current skills and behaviours, as well as how these behaviours were manifested at age four to five years or at any point during development. The original version of the instrument (the ADI) was often used to verify diagnoses for research purposes. The revised version, designed for diagnosis in clinical settings, was published in 2003.


Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)

An interactive assessment tool used in making autism spectrum diagnoses. It consists of four separate modules, each comprising tasks designed for use with children of different ages and different levels of development and language.


Autism Rights Movement

A network of people with autism that advocates that autism is a form of human variation (a neurodiversity), rather than a disorder to be cured, and that society needs to be accepting of autistic behaviours, teaching coping skills rather than trying to make autistic people neurotypical. The movement also organises social events where autistics can ‘be themselves’.


Autism Spectrum

A description of the fact that whilst all individuals with autism share some core characteristics, they also have their own unique profile of strengths and weaknesses.


Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC)

A term favoured over Autism Spectrum Disorder by some professionals and people in the autism community as it avoids the negative connotations of ‘disorder’.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

The term used in formal diagnosis, and by many professionals in the context of clinical practice for diagnoses on the autism spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by moderate to profound difficulties in social communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests.



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