By Maureen Aarons;Tessa Gittens

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So much information about the world is absorbed without any conscious effort or awareness; knowledge can be applied flexibly to accommodate changing situations and new experiences, and this is Page 11 what the individual with autism has great difficulty in doing. An indication of these wide-ranging difficulties which govern their lives can be extrapolated by their evident problems with picture sequences. In her book, Autism: An Introduction to Psychological Theory (1994), Fran Happe explains with clarity the type of stories which are particularly difficult for them to understand.

It must be accepted that there are no short cuts to remediation. It is a slow, painstaking process, but much can be achieved when children with autism have access to a social skills programme, preferably within an appropriate educational setting. The aim of this book is to present practical ideas that will form the basis for programmes of intervention for children with autism. At the outset, we need to make it clear that the content is aimed at children with normal or near normal cognitive abilities, rather than those whose autism accompanies severe learning disability.

A speech and language therapy programme, delivered without razzmatazz and hype, tends to be given little credibility, regardless of the fact that what is being offered is exactly what the child requiresnot in terms of teaching the child to talk, but in setting the scene for developing communication in the widest sense. We have the skills, but are in the unfortunate position of having little opportunity to foster them. In saying this, we recognize that we are placing demands on a profession which is already wildly overstretched.

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