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Autistic Spectrum Disorder

People keep asking me about autism and deafness. I don't consider this to be an area of expertise for me, but here are the few common responses I give:

Many children are deaf from an interesting biological cause, and that cause can give rise to a whole panoply of interesting psychological sequelae like dyspraxia, semantic pragmatic language disorder, learning disability, low emotional literacy, hyperactivity, attentional problems, etc, all of which mean making a pure diagnosis of autism rather interesting. For these kids the correct “diagnosis” is “a whole bunch of unhelpful neurological problems” and the question then is “do any of this individual’s array of difficulties overlap with the list of symptoms of ASD in such a way that ASD treatment approaches would be helpful?”

There’s more to it than this of course. As well as these aetiological considerations, there are considerations of the consequences of the deafness, such as, do the child’s parents share a language with that child? As a result of the deafness and, probably, hearing parents, is attachment compromised during important early years? Is the child literally deaf to the incidentally learned social mores that define social competence? These cloud the symptom picture even further.


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