According to Kanner (1943) autism is a syndrome and people with this syndrome have an ability to make sense of or engage normally with everyday events and situations. Within the Autistic spectrum disorder different perspectives and disciplines are embraced to seek understanding for support and treatment. This report aims to provide a brief review of the autistic spectrum and come to a conclusion of the diagnosis and treatment that should catered to a 6-year-old boy. Further to this we will assist the family with different approaches of support to allow them to deal with this possible issue.
Firstly it has to be said that as of yet there is currently no known 'cure' for autism. This does not mean, however, that nothing can be done for a person or in this case a child with autism. So what we need to focus on first is an accurate diagnosis so we understand the nature and implications of Ben's problem. Once we have come to this we can focus on the appropriate support and care we need to deal with this problem. Using the diagnostic approach we would look at particular psychological symptoms and behaviours that group together that form identifiable syndromes, in this case autism.
According to the 'diagnostic criteria for classic autism according to DSM-IV-TR' (reference) autism basic symptoms are impairment in social interaction, failure to develop peer relationships, lack of emotional reciprocity, delay in spoken language (reference). The examples that show that Ben may have these symptoms are showing are lack of conversation, the interruptions of conversation, pedantic behaviour, violent behaviour, disruptive in an organised setting, spitting, self touching, does not look people in the eye, tantrums are thrown, lack of self awareness to ones behaviour and obsessive compulsive disorder tendencies. Recognition of this at an early stage is important in preventing or allowing it to get worse or affect the family dynamic even more, so seeing Ben at this young age is a step in the right direction.
In order to check whether or not Ben does have autism he could go through a screening process. ' The checklist for autism in toddlers' (CHAT) could be used here, it only takes five minutes to administer and has been shown to be highly effective in predicting if a child will develop autism, asperser's or other developmental syndromes. Basically if the questions are all failed he is likely to be in risk of 80-85% of being autistic and then we can see what treatment would be best to use (reference). Even before the test it is mostly likely from the signs and behaviors he is doing that treatment would help him and the family.
Once a diagnosis has been made no two people with autism are exactly alike so each person with this syndrome needs a treatment program to meet their individual needs and this is what we plan to apply to Ben and his family.
Now, the most effective treatment here for Ben and his family would be TEACCH. This stands for ' Treatment and Education Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children'. This is an evidence-based service, training, and research program for individuals of all ages and skill levels with autism spectrum disorders. This treatment has been chosen because the TEACCH program has worked with thousands of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families. TEACCH provides diagnostic evaluations, parent training and parent support groups, individual counseling.
The positive thing here is that TEACCH is effective for young children, and early intervention programs are intensive, hands-on program that works to help young children with autism and their families learn skills and strategies that will insure the children's success as they grow older and enter the educational system or re-enter the education system. The primary aim of the TEACCH program is to help to prepare people with autism to live or work more effectively at home, at school and in the community. Special emphasis is placed on helping people with autism and their families live together more effectively by reducing or removing 'autistic behaviors'.
In relation to Ben and education children with autism require special education needs to address their social difficulties. It is really important to make these activities as much fun as possible so the student will stay motivated. It is not easy for an autistic child to change his or her response to various situations, so it is imperative that the activities be non-threatening and highly interesting. It has been demonstrated that over time the use of visual aids and social stories are two of the most effective ways to help autistic children overcome social situations they feel are threatening and this is used within the TEACCH program. To most of us, these situations are normal, everyday occurrences, but to children with autism they can sometimes be terrifying moments that they do not have the skills to deal with. These teaching methods, while entertaining and fun, can help children adapt and manage their perceptions of social interactions.
So this treatment aims to involve the parents, assess for the individual by designing unique educational programs such as a rigid structured educational environment. The procedures focus on cognition and behavior suggesting that problems in behavior stem from perception and understanding.
I'd like to highlight thought that TEAACH relies heavily on the parent or carer in regards to maintenance of this treatment, so this can be stressful for the parent. However, having an autistic child is going to be stressful anyway and in order for the child to progress it is going to take a lot of maintenance of the parent part and the rewards that will come from the treatment will most likely make the stress worthwhile.
This treatment would also be effective as the ethical content of it is appropriate to this situation as it has positive ethical features. It is flexible with individuals needs; it considers the needs of the child as well as the parents. For example it may be able to reduce the fathers feelings of helplessness.
What we must remember is that although focus here is placed primarily on behavior autism is a biological brain disorder. It is important here that we involve biological treatments as focus was placed in the interview that Bens uncle may have autism so this emphasized that genetics is involved. And if this is the case then biological treatments could be very effective. The best way to deal with autism in this case is to intervene at a very early stage as has been done with Ben. The use of drugs could be administered to influence brain functioning such as dealing with neurotransmitter levels.
Sometimes a child of Bens age my not respond in the same way to medication as those without autism would. So it would therefore be advised that a parent work along side with a doctor. He will provide a low dosage of medication that he deems to be most effective.
To some the situation up Ben will go through the procedure of CHAT and then a diagnosis will be made if needs be. A personal program will be created in conjunction with the chosen effective program of TEACCH. The reason I chose TEACCH as opposed to the other programs such as Lovaas is because TEACCH has a way of dealing with autism in Ben respectfully. Respect for the parents and the fact that they can be co-therapists in the program. There is testable evidence by Persson (2000) who did a longitudinal study and the results showed clear evidence for improvement in behaviour problems, sense of independence and well being, was was reduced need for staff monitoring.
It can be adapted to almost any situation. However the only criticism I would have for this program if any is that the highlight of it seems to be portrayed as successful because parents are getting support to, we should not let this shadow the fact that the whole purpose is to improve the autistic child.