Chapter

Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation

pp 269-279

REST as a Treatment for Children with Autism

  • John Harrison
  • , Arreed Barabasz

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Several studies suggest that average levels of stimulation may be too high for autistic children (C. Hutt, S. Hutt, Lee, & Ounsted, 1964; Margolies, 1977; Schechter, Shurley, Toussieng, & Maier, 1969; Suedfeld & Schwartz, 1983). Alternatively, others attribute the problem to a deprivation of sensory input (Moore & Shiek, 1971; Williams & Harper, 1974). Theories and evidence from clinical observations converge on a characterization of autism as an abnormal reaction to environmental stimuli or a dysfunction in the ability to adequately process average levels of stimuli (American Psychiatric Association, 1987; Fein, Waterhouse, Lucci, & Snyder, 1985; Ornitz & Ritvo, 1976; Wing & Gould, 1979). Bartak, Rutter, and Cox (1975) have shown that individuals with autism have limited or restricted interactions. Theories consistent with this evidence suggest that exposure to average levels of stimuli results in a cognitive processing breakdown and an abnormal (restrictive) response to the environment (e.g., Hermelin, 1976; Rutter, 1983; Shah & Wing, 1986). If these theories are correct, one would expect a reduction in the amount of stimuli these individuals are required to process to result in a reduction of autistic symptoms and a desire for stimulation.