The Mail on Sunday - You - - Cover Story -

The ad­vi­sory board for Pe­tra’s Place, headed by Pro­fes­sor Si­mon Baron-Co­hen, ex­plains… How com­mon is autism in the UK? Autism is di­ag­nosed in one in 100 chil­dren. Why do we need early in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices for autism in the UK? Autism is partly ge­netic and how a child’s brain is wired from be­fore birth and dur­ing de­vel­op­ment. But if a child re­ceives early in­ter­ven­tion they can learn to so­cialise and com­mu­ni­cate more eas­ily, cope bet­ter in a world they oth­er­wise find over­whelm­ing and be­come less anx­ious, so that they can ful­fil their po­ten­tial. What does early in­ter­ven­tion for autism in­volve? The best ther­apy cen­tres of­fer a range of ap­proaches. These might in­clude speech and oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pies, the arts (mu­sic, art and drama), fun ac­tiv­i­ties (cook­ing, play) and fam­ily ther­apy for par­ents. What are the signs of autism in young chil­dren? Not mak­ing eye con­tact, very rigid be­hav­iour and not show­ing re­cip­ro­cal so­cial ac­tion, such as tak­ing turns in play. But none of these are di­ag­nos­tic. Con­cerned par­ents should dis­cuss with their GP, who can de­cide if the child needs a full as­sess­ment.

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