Cornelia De Lange
The challenge of understanding autism in genetic syndromes
Imagine that two people walk into a meeting. As you observe these people you note that both walk with their eyes averted from others. You might note that they appear very similar in their mannerisms. However, if anyone asked you to say why the people were averting their eyes you might give a number of different answers.
Autism is assessed by looking at the behaviours a person shows alongside some of the environmental factors that might impact on a person. Usually, if the person shows a certain number of behaviours associated with autism they fall above a cut-off for a diagnosis. However diagnosing autism in an individual who has a severe intellectual disability becomes much more challenging as many of the behaviours associated with autism are shared by individuals with severe intellectual disability.
It is important to be mindful of current research when working with someone who has a genetic syndrome because the underlying reasons for why the person shows a behaviour may be different. This is important because it ultimately impacts on the type of support a person may need.
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