AUTISM: Autism is often referred to as a spectrum disorder, meaning that the
symptoms and characteristics can present themselves in a variety of
combinations, ranging from mild to severe. Several autism-related disorders
are grouped under the broad heading: Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).
are autism, autism Asperger's syndrome and Rett's syndrome.
COMMUNICATION: Language develops slowly or not at all; uses words without
attaching usual meaning to them; communicates only with gestures; short
SOCIAL INTERACTION: Spends time alone rather than with others; shows little
interest in making friends; less responsive to eye contact or smiles
SENSORY IMPAIRMENT: Overly sensitive to touch or under-responsive to pain;
sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste may be affected to a lesser or greater
PLAY: Lack of spontaneous or imaginative play; does not imitate others actions
or initiate pretend games
BEHAVIORS: May be overactive or very passive; frequent tantrums; may focus on
single item, idea or person; lack of common sense; aggressive or violent
behavior or attempt to injure self
TRADITIONAL TESTS: Traditionally, children aren't tested for autism or other
developmental problems until they reach three years old. They are then put
through a series of tests that rely on a child's ability to speak, respond to
requests and demonstrate motor skills, such as stacking blocks.
IPP: Information Processing Procedure is a new way to test for autism. During
the test, a child sits on an adult's lap, facing a display area with a
curtained backdrop. An examiner inserts his hands through the curtains and
conducts a series of demonstrations, such as repeatedly rolling a toy car down
a ramp and knocking over a brightly colored object. During the demonstration,
examiners measure and record the child's physiological responses (heart rate),
physical responses (pointing, eye movement, smiling) and verbal responses, as
well as the child's overall behavior patters. These responses measure how much
the child is assimilating to the action and remembering the experience.
TREATMENTS: Some symptoms may lessen as the child ages and others may
disappear altogether. With appropriate intervention, many autistic behaviors
can be changed, even to the point that the individual may appear to the
untrained eye to no longer have autism. The majority of children and adults
will, however, continue to exhibit some symptoms of autism to some degree. No
one approach is affective in alleviating symptoms of autism in all cases.
Various types of therapies are available including behavior modification,
speech/language therapy, sensory integration, vision therapy, music therapy,
auditory training, medications and dietary interventions. Experience shows
that the more tailor-made the program is to the individual's needs the better
their chances of success are. A generation ago, 90% of people with autism were
eventually placed in institutions. Today, even the most severely disabled can
be taught skills to allow them to develop to their fullest potential.
IPP LOCATIONS: Bancroft located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, is a private non-
profit corporation dedicated to helping people of all ages with developmental
disabilities and brain trauma achieve a better quality of life. It is
currently the only U.S. site to perform IPP. The only other IPP test site is
at Montreal Children's Hospital in Canada. IPP may be available in other
locations within 5 to 10 years.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
Autism Society of America (800) 3-AUTISM