Throughout history, starting with Bleuler, who in his book stated: “We call autism, the detachment of reality, associated with a relative or absolute predominance of inner life”, to contemporary authors who define autism in terms of “social anomalies”, communicative and imaginative ”emphasizing the absence of reciprocal social interactions and empathy, the inability to engage and maintain a conversation, a limited range of thoughts and interests, the absence of imaginative play, the insistence of keeping the environment unchanged and repetitive and stereotypical behaviours”, there have been numerous opinions regarding this complex syndrome.
Kanner (University of Baltimore) essentially describes early childhood autism as “the inability of the child to make normal relationships with the members of the community he is part of”.
He uses the following essential features in diagnosis:
- the profound impossibility to develop social relations with parents or adults;
- the presence of characteristic language disorders considered as deviations of language development and understanding (muteness, echolalia, which is a repetition in echo of words or phrases, which the child with TSA heard and stored in the past);
- resistance to stimuli;
- deficits in the construction of imitation of based skills;
- the presence of ritual behaviours (stereotypical behaviours or based on abnormal and obsessive tendencies).
ABA or Applied Behavioural Analysis is the science of human behaviour. It is processed to systematize an intervention based on the principles of learning, in order to create an adaptive behaviour and a mechanism that can adapt the environment.
ABA is a technique that evaluates the environment in which a person lives, then makes certain changes, in order to produce significant improvements in human behaviour. Includes direct observation, functional analysis of the relationship between environment and behaviour.
ABA is not a specific therapy only for autism spectrum disorder, but is a therapeutic intervention for both children diagnosed with ADHD and for those suffering from Down syndrome.