The given research paper touches upon a vital problem of modern society - the problem of autism among adults and especially children. It discusses the problems of socialization caused by this disease and the positive impact of social stories actively used by the teachers.
The term “autism” was used for the first time in 1908 by Bleyler who used this word (from the Greek “autos”, means “oneself”) for the description of withdrawal from social life, which is observed in adult people sick with schizophrenia. However, as an independent problem autism was described for the first time by doctor Kenner in 1943 in the book Autistic Violations of Emotional Contact. He defined a number of the signs and characteristics to all autists. Autism was considered to be only a psychiatric or psychological problem for a long time and it also was confused with schizophrenia. In 1971, it was finally separated from schizophrenia. Later, the genetic nature of autism was discovered; it took the same place in psychiatry as schizophrenia in relation to the severity and the principles of diagnosing. About 80 % of the patients with autism have considerable problems in training (intellectual backwardness). On the other hand, autism is also widespread among people with intellectual backwardness, thus the full variant of the disease takes place at 17 %, and at people with IQ less than 50 its frequency reaches 27 %. It indicates the central value of autism in psychiatry of intellectual backwardness at which its identification often allows explaining available violations. There is also Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities that appear early in a child’s life. These disorders are identified based on the presence of difficulties in three major areas: communication, social interaction, and behavior (repetitive behavior or fixated interests). People, diagnosed with ADS, much like everyone else, may experience life in very different ways. (NationalAutismCenter, 2011, p. 7).
At present, it is considered that autism is not an illness; it is symptomatology which was called by this word for short. The nature of this phenomenon has not been fully studied yet, and nobody knows how to win this disease. Autism names everything that has no other explanation. In order to understand how social stories positively influence autism, it is necessary to find out what the symptoms of autism are.
It is impossible to say that autism is a product of a highly developed society. Almost in any culture we can find the legends in which there are the stories about naïve or “silly” people, differing by a strange behavior and the absence of a common sense at their plots. Such stories tell about naïve people – is a sign, very characteristic for highly functional autists. It is interesting that similar heroes of fairy tales are always men; autism among men is met twice more often than among women.
According to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (2008), autism belongs to the category of diseases because of the problems with environment. Environment is understood as food, drugs, air, water, receipt of the necessary nutritious microcells, and the content of toxins in surrounding environment that get into an organism. Generally, everything that surrounds people can bear a potential threat to a person and become a source of problems in an organism. A child suffering from autism cannot build a healthy relationship with other people, which is very important being in a society. This inability can have serious consequences that can affect the relationship of a mother and a child at the beginning of a child’s life. It is important to know that a child with autism syndrome shows affection towards mother and other people, who care for him/her. However, the ways in which a child with autism expresses love and affection strongly differ from the ways of normal children. About 80 % of children with autism have considerable problems with training (intellectual retardation). On the other hand, autism is also widespread among people with intellectual retardation, thus a full variant of the disease is 17 %. Its frequency reaches 27 % among people with IQ less than 50. It indicates the central importance of autism in psychiatry of intellectual retardation, where its identification often allows explaining the existent violations. (Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, 2008).
There are a lot of researches implemented by the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Network (ADDM). One of them, called “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) Among Multiple Areas of the United States in 2008”, showed that if a child does not communicate with other children and parents, doctors do not always diagnose autism. During development of a child his interaction with society becomes unique. The features of behavior often concern visual contact, look and body position. It is usually difficult for a child with autism to establish relationships with peers, and, more often, a child remains isolated from a society. A child does not express any interest in games or any kinds of activity in comparison with other children of his age. Children with autism do not wish to play any games. In some extreme cases of autism, children cannot notice the presence of other people.
Autism impacts children of different age groups. Pre-school age group of children with autism is characterized by mutism; they can never speak any language and are left dumb. The main violation of communication within one age group at autism (as well as in any kind of social violations) is a lack of reciprocity and inability to understand the value of the use of language as transfer of communicative information, “messages” from one person to another.
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Speaking of the children of a school age group, suffering from autism, it should be said that, despite the fact that the considerable part of this age group seizes communicative speech (in various degree and quality), an informal speech has usually various qualitative levels. It seems formal, mechanical and is said monotonously, an unusual voice, tone and loudness.
Thus, starting from 7-12 years there are considerable differences at different children, suffering from autism, at school age. Even children, having an identical level of development of 3 years, can differ absolutely from each other in 5-7 years: some children can be mute and almost absolutely uncommunicative, while the others can be talkative and active. A rather big group of people with autism passes through the school period with small difficulties and without any special achievements in social development. The majority of children with autism develop well during the period of teenage age, especially in the sphere of speech activity. They can change in this regard so that it becomes very difficult to distinguish personality in them. This age group better interacts with the same age group than with other age groups. Moreover, they better interact with a bigger group of children.
The symptoms of autism usually appear at the age under 3 years and are observed throughout life. Children with autism have a wide variety of symptoms which differ by the severity of manifestation, varying from light to severe. There are the following symptoms:
- difficulties in communication (expression of thoughts and understanding of the speech of an interlocutor);
- inability to support conversation, even if a child can speak;
- difficulties of nonverbal communication: gestures and mimicry;
- inability of social interaction with surrounding people;
- inability to make friends (a child prefers to play alone);
- unusual way of game with toys and other subjects;
- absence of imagination;
- inability to adapt to a new situation or the persevering requirement to remember the smallest details of a daily routine;
- repeating movements of a body or behavior model, for example, claps;
- involvement in the activity with unusual subjects or their parts.
The communicative violation can be so serious that can affect the relationship of a mother and a child at the beginning of a child’s life. It is important to know that a child with the given syndrome shows affection towards mother and other people who care for him/her. However, the way by means of which a child with autism expresses love and affection strongly differs from the ways of normal children. If a child has little contact with other children and parents, in such a case doctors do not always can diagnose autism. During the development of a child his interaction with society becomes stranger. The features of behavior often concern a visual contact, a look and a body position. It is usually difficult for a child with autism to establish any relationship with peers, and more often a child remains isolated from a society. Children do not express any interest in games or any kinds of activity in comparison with their contemporaries. Children with such frustration do not wish to play any games. In hard cases children cannot notice the presence of other people.
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Support and care should take into account peoples’ needs and preferences. People with autism should have an opportunity to make informed decisions about their case, in partnership with their healthcare professionals. Good communications between healthcare professionals and people with autism and their families, partners and carers is essential. (NHS, 2012, p.6)
In order to make the training more effective, nurses should have the following skills:
- The skills of dialogue, understanding of descriptions and behavior definitions, understanding of feedback.
- Skills to answer the questions, to be attentive and tolerant to people around.
- Understanding of the cause and effect relations.
In conclusion, it should be said that autism is a very severe disease. Children suffering from autism cannot build a healthy relationship with other people, what is very important, being in a society. Children with autism of different age groups have different types of interaction among themselves. Children of school and teenage age have better interaction among themselves than with other big age groups. Autism should be correspondingly treated. Moreover, nurses should be more attentive to people and especially children with autism.
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