Childhood autism is not a new problem today. Both in our country and abroad in recent years there have been many new original studies devoted to the problems of etiology, pathogenesis of childhood autism, manifestations of autistic conditions in various clinical structures.
In a number of countries, studies have been conducted to identify the prevalence of childhood autism. It has been established that this syndrome occurs in about 3-6 cases per 10,000 children, being found in boys 3-4 times more often than in girls.
It is often emphasized that multiple cases of similar disorders in the development of communication and social adaptation are grouped around this “pure” clinical syndrome.
As a result, modern clinical classifications include childhood autism in a group of pervasive (all-pervasive) disorders manifesting itself in impaired development of virtually all aspects of the psyche: cognitive and affective spheres: attention, memory, speech, thinking; sensory and motor skills, etc.
Currently, it is becoming increasingly clear that childhood autism is not a problem of childhood alone. Difficulties in communication and social adaptation change form, but do not go away over the years, and help and support should accompany a person with autism throughout his or her life.
Domestic defectology has paid attention to the problem of early childhood autism relatively recently. The urgency of the problem is determined by the high frequency of this anomaly of mental development (15-20 cases per 10,000) and the very great importance of timely and adequate correction. The solution to the problem of correction is associated primarily with the need for broad public awareness of the peculiarities of individuals with autism.
First and foremost, parents and specialists working in the pre-school and school system, as well as in educational institutions of various profiles, should have access to such information. Sometimes it seems unbelievable that even specialists – defectologists working in special correctional institutions – lack at least basic knowledge of the peculiarities of autism and the principles of its correction. This often leads to great difficulties in the education and upbringing of such children, and sometimes to a situation where the teacher exacerbates the child’s autism by his actions.
However, there is still no unequivocal idea of what the concept of autism itself means, what its main characteristics are. This complicates the situation with differential diagnosis, often leading to an erroneous diagnosis and to the choice of an incorrect methodological approach in psychological and pedagogical correctional work. The existing recommendations for remedial work in ADHD do not give an idea of the whole picture of the work. Basically, only separate directions are developed. General recommendations do not provide sufficient information about the specifics of correcting autism in different clinical pictures.
Current approaches to the problem of autism and its differential diagnosis.
The concept of “autism” as a central symptom in severe disturbances of interaction with reality in adult patients with schizophrenia was first introduced by E. Bleuler in 1920 and was seen as “detachment of associations from data of experience, disregard of actual relations”. Autism was characterized behaviorally as a retreat from real life into the world of inner experiences, considered as a conscious or unconscious protective adaptation against mental pain, giving a person an opportunity to escape the overwhelming demands of his environment. Somewhat later, V.P. Osipov viewed autism as “the disconnection of patients from the outside world.