TITLE

Reacting to autistic children: the danger of trying too hard

AUTHOR(S)
Richer, John; Richards, Barry; Richer, J; Richards, B
PUB. DATE
December 1975
SOURCE
British Journal of Psychiatry;Dec75, Vol. 127, p526
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
journal article
ABSTRACT
Recent work has revealed that autistic children's predominating tendency to avoid social interactions is actually enhanced by the 'friendly' approaches to others. In this study it was recorded on video-tape how eight autistic children reacted to four styles of adult behaviour. The adult reacted to the child's looks at her by (i) smiling, (ii) gaze averting, (iii) gaze averting plus other 'timid' behaviours and (iv) doing nothing except continuing to look back. For this last condition--when the adult did not react--it was found that autistic children showed less avoidance behaviour after eye contact and spent more time within one metre of the adult. The implications for treatment are contrary to much modern practice and to what seems to be adults' 'natural' response. Reactivity by others appears to enhance the child's avoidance, and it is suggested that adults should be circumspect in the degree of sociability with which they respond to autistic children.
ACCESSION #
24717714

 

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