The idea that children with autism have more difficulty in socialising and expressing themselves may not be entirely accurate, a new study suggests.
The findings are being presented at a conference on early childhood and autism in Sydney, Australia.
The research involved over 300 children and their parents, all of whom have autism.
In a paper published in the Journal of the Australian Medical Association, lead author Dr Matthew Tisserand of the University of NSW School of Medicine and Dentistry said the children who had autism were more likely to experience the challenges of socialising with others, but that this did not seem to affect the children’s overall level of functioning.
“When we looked at the children, we found that they were doing OK, that there was no significant difference in the social functioning,” Dr Tissing said.
“However, when we looked into the children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there was a significant difference between the two groups.”‘
No effect on functioning’The study involved parents who had three or more children with ASD.
Dr Tisdall said it was not possible to determine whether the results would apply to those with autism in general, or only to the children diagnosed with autism.
“There are a lot of things we don’t know about these people,” he said.
Dr Tiss said while socialising in public with other people was a common experience for some children, for others it could be “a very hard experience”.
“The social skills of the children might be a little different, and they might struggle in school, they might be struggling with language,” he explained.
“If we were to say that the kids who have autism are less able to socialise and express themselves in public, that’s not a very comforting conclusion.”
So, we don, we need to do some research to really understand how they have social difficulties.
“The study also found that the children did not show any significant changes in their level of social interaction with their caregivers, regardless of whether they had autism or not.
The researchers found that parents with children with a diagnosis of ASD reported lower levels of support and less communication with their children.”
We were interested to see if there was an effect of the type of child that we’re talking about, because it’s not clear whether that would be a positive or negative effect of social support,” Dr Matthew said.
The study was conducted at the University Health Services (UHS) in NSW.