Abnormal and Clinical Psychology: An Introductory Textbook

By Paul Bennett | Go to book overview
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13
Developmental disorders
This chapter looks at three disorders within the diagnostic category of pervasive developmental difficulties. It describes three conditions in which difficulties in childhood are predictive of subsequent adult problems. It considers the problems associated with a variety of disorders grouped under the broad category of learning difficulties. It then discusses the aetiology and treatment of more specific conditions: autism and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). By the end of the chapter, you should have an understanding of:
Definitions and some of the causes of learning difficulties
Aspects of the social and psychological care of people with learning difficulties
The biological and psychological bases of autism
The MMR vaccination and autism controversy
Treatment of autism and autistic behaviours
Factors that contribute to ADHD
Biological and psychological treatments of ADHD.

Learning difficulties

Learning difficulties is a broad term that encompasses a variety of conditions whose defining characteristic is a significant impairment of intellectual functioning. The terms used to describe people with this condition differ across the world and in time. In the UK, they have in the past been referred to as 'handicapped', 'subnormal' or 'retarded'. Now, all people with intellectual deficits, however profound, are referred to as having learning difficulties. The reasons for these changing terms are not trivial: they reflect attempts to minimize the prejudice often expressed in relation to this group of people. In the USA, people with mild learning difficulties are referred to as having learning difficulties, those with more profound deficits are still referred to as having mental retardation.

The first criterion for a diagnosis of having a learning disability is that its onset is before the age of 18 years, to exclude the affects of trauma or other neurological

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