By Charlie Wainwright
FAMILIES OF autistic children have welcomed a new study by scientists published in The Lancet which claims to have found a ‘striking’ and ‘remarkable’ treatment for autism.
The first ever successful treatment results came from studying toddlers over six years who were enrolled in an intensive programme of “super parenting”, reducing overall severity of symptoms by 17 per cent.
The study aimed to improve mum’s and dad’s parenting to improve the social skills of the child.
According to statistics by the National Autistic Society more than one in every 100 people living in the UK suffers from autism or a related disorder, which means 700,000 people have the condition nationally.
However, another study – this time by scientists from the University of Bristol, Harvard and MIT as well as Massachusetts General Hospital – found there is a genetic risk for every person to be on the spectrum, just with varying degrees of severity.
The scientists argue that it is only those with the most severe symptoms that are officially diagnosed. The findings were published in the journal, Nature Genetics, in March.
Sonia Politis, 57, deputy manager of learning disability supported living group, St Anne’s Community Services, said: “I do feel that everyone is on the autistic spectrum but is affected differently.”
Sonia explained that she has a current client who took over a week to choose a pair of shoes because he had to fully think it through logically, and said to him it was an almost impossible task.
Although she described this as a severe example, she added that sometimes everybody can see things ‘irrationally’ or in an autistic frame of mind, placing everyone on the autistic spectrum.
Zoe Holland, teacher of SEN in East Sussex, has taught children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder for 10 years.
She said: “To be diagnosed as autistic you must demonstrate aspects of all three of the triad of impairments: behaviour, communication and flexibility.
“I think we all show autistic traits in one or two of these areas from time to time. For example when I’m stressed I crave order and routine. I do not however have the challenge of the sensory and processing issues that challenge many of those on the autistic spectrum.”
When commenting on the new treatment Zoe said: “It’s about understanding the specific obstacles and barriers that the individual child is facing and working on a one-to-one basis rather than diet or medicinal treatments.”
Clarissa Davies, 33, from London, whose 10-year-old daughter Kiera has the disorder, said she agreed this genetic risk is within everyone.
Kiera was diagnosed just over nine months ago, with both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and ASD.
Clarissa said: “I wholeheartedly agree we all have autism, just some are able to control the symptoms more than others. I believe I have it myself.”