Last week, news that changes to the diagnostic criteria for autism could cut the number of diagnoses was met with a mixed reaction, and many were concerned that those affected by the changes might go without much needed services to manage the condition.
This week, research has emerged that some simple tools could be effective in dealing with autism when implemented at an early age. One of the differences between thought processes in people with autism has to do with visual thinking versus thinking “in words,” and encouraging children at crucial educational stages to “talk things through” in words could help many deal with the effects of autism even as adults, research reveals.
The new data comes from a study in the UK, and British researchers found that while the ability to process thoughts in words exists, many autistic children “don’t always use it in the same way as typically developing people do.” Durham University’s department of psychology lead the study, and researcher David Williams commented on the findings:
“Most people will ‘think in words’ when trying to solve problems, which helps with planning or particularly complicated tasks… Children with autism probably aren’t doing this thinking in their heads, but are continuing on with a visual thinking strategy… So this is the time, at around six or seven years old, that these teaching methods would be most helpful.”
The study was published in this month’s Development and Psychopathology Journal, and was conducted at Durham, Bristol and City University London. 15 adults with high-functioning autism and 16 neurotypical adults participated.