The near-normal autistic adolescent
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A panel of six parents and professionals, “convening” by letter over a period of a year, decided to compare their impressions of approximately 50 mildly autistic adolescents they have known. The airmail method, though time consuming, provoked thoughtful discussion. It began with recognition that the young people had many characteristics in common, in spite of their unique personalities and different aptitudes. Some of the older boys had persisted for years in the development of skills which interested them, neglecting or avoiding others which they found difficult or irrelevant to their goals. On the surface, it appeared that these young people had grown in widely different directions.
When communication problems and social adjustments were examined, the panel agreed that these near-normal autistic individuals typically use nonreciprocal speech, with such recurrent problems as failing to listen, interpreting words too literally, and making irrelevant comments. Socially they are apprehensive, having experienced unpleasant consequences of errors in judgment. The panel concludes that the overlapping problems of this group of predominantly male near-normal autistic individuals should not be dismissed as coincidence. Further study of the needs of all mildly autistic adolescents is urgently recommended.
KeywordsYoung People School Psychology Communication Problem Social Adjustment Unique Personality
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