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Language in autistic spectrum disorders: the use of the Autistic Behavior Checklist (ABC) to assess the different clinical features about functional communicative profile and social cognitive performance

Grant number: 05/04113-8
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: March 01, 2006 - February 28, 2007
Field of knowledge:Health Sciences - Speech Therapy
Principal researcher:Fernanda Dreux Miranda Fernandes
Grantee:Fernanda Dreux Miranda Fernandes
Home Institution: Faculdade de Medicina (FM). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Language and communication disorders are proposed as one of the three fundamental criteria for the description or diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) along with social disabilities and a narrow focus of interest. On the other side, the notion of autistic spectrum suggests that different conditions with similar features may be grouped or organized according to the comprehensiveness and intensity of the identified disorders. This proposal can be very useful to the determination of language and communication therapeutic intervention once it allow the identification of individual profiles of abilities and inabilities. Besides that, the detailed identification of these profiles may contribute to the psychiatric diagnosis and, bay the way, to all clinical and educational management of each person included in this spectrum. The present study is based in the notion of applicability to the Brazilian reality, that doesn’t include multidisciplinary teams in all the few places that offer services to persons with PDD. This way, the determination of simple procedures, that can be used by health and education professionals to identify the persons that need specialized services is essential. The Autistic Behavior Checklist (ABC) is being used in several studies because it allows simple application and may be based on filmed behavior samples, interviews with parents or therapists. Its' results, on the other side, had been tested for a few decades and been shown reliable. The present researcher has used a series of twenty functional categories to identify the functional communicative profile of autistic children, adapted from the literature. According to this proposal the communicative acts the communicative act starts when the interaction begins and ends when the attention focus shifts or the turn changes. The communicative means are divided in verbal (whith at least 75% of the original phonemes), vocal (all other vocalizations) and gestual (including body and face movements). It is important to consider that if language can't develop separately from organic, emotional, cognitive and social aspects and if it has meaning only when related to some context, any assessment or intervention must consider all these elements. This way, the language diagnosis must include the assessment of social cognitive performance. I have used in my studies one criteria for the assessment of social cognitive spontaneous performance in the areas of communicative intent (vocal and gestual), imitation (vocal and gestual), tool use and play (combinatory and symbolic) that has shown its efficiency in identifying the detailed abilities effectively used in each of tha areas. Besides, the assessment of performance in spontaneous situations allows the procedure's reapplication as frequently as needed. The purpose of this study includes the verification of the hypothesis that it is possible to identify differences in the communicative profile and in the social cognitive performance of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders if the autistic spectrum that can be related to different results on the ABC. The general aim is to verify the possibility that the assessment of the relation between communication, social cognitive performance and the ABC score contributes to the diagnostic process of persons with disorders of the autistic spectrum. Subjects are 120 children and adolescents with ages between 2 and 14 years attending language therapy. Data will be statistically analyzed to verify the significance of existing correlations between all data and the occurrence of significant clusters. (AU)

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