Children with an ASD spectrum disorder have learning challenges that are different from those of most children. So do children with a visual impairment.

When a child has both an ASD spectrum disorder and a visual Impairment, the Implications are not simply additive of the two separate disabilities. Indeed, the learning challenges are multiplicative (Gupta 2004 21). The combination of these disabilities has implications for all aspects of development, including communication skills, social integration skills, cognitive development, and movement.

The impact on development and learning is significant and profound. ASD Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that normally becomes evident in the first three years of a child’s life. Current estimates are that ASD including all the spectrum diagnoses occurs in approximately two to seven per 1000 people. It is about one-tenth of this for the severe end of the ASD spectrum (Wood 2006 459).

This varies depending on which research you read and also in which countries the research was carried out; it is also probably to do with the way the diagnosis is made and the criteria used. It is about three to four times more common in boys than in girls. ASD affects communication, social interaction, imagination and behaviour. It is not something a child can catch.

Parents do not cause it but it is deemed as a condition that carries on into adolescence and adulthood. ASD is not a condition that can be detected at birth. Babies with ASD look just as beautiful as all other babies. There are no obvious characteristics and no blood tests to detect the condition. In the course of the study, ASD is further exemplified in terms of health beliefs, developmental patterns and theoretical applications to such conditions of ASD.


Health Beliefs and Health Behaviours

Health beliefs may have a direct impact on outcomes for children with disabilities. Modal Hispanic culture is described as placing high value on familialism, allocentrism, and motherhood. Allocentrism and familialism promote supportive attitudes inward the family member with a disability (Whitman 2004 368; Morgan and Morgan 1996 459).

To a person outside that cultural value system, the expression of these values may be interpreted as overprotectiveness. It may also appear that such values and parenting styles hinder development of personal independence in a child with a disability (Gupta 2004 21). Health behavioural context reminds that the presence or absence of behavior is a function not only of ability but also of the value placed on it and subsequent opportunities to learn it (Morgan and Morgan 1996 459).

Clinicians need to remember that their own values for child outcomes, such as independence, autonomy, and self-assertion, are interpreted differently across health conditions. In the case of children with severe disabilities, cultural clashes between professional and parental goals are likely to be exacerbated. For the clinician, developing treatment goals that fit the health behaviours in which the child lives enhances acceptance and continued participation by families (Gupta 2004 24).

The quality and kind of health care people with an ASD spectrum condition receive will depend not only on the interpretation of their needs by others close w them, but also on how ASD-aware frontline health care workers are and how sympathetic and attuned they may be to modifying their usual practice to accommodate communication and sensory problems (Wood 2006 459).

Few primary care trusts, hospitals, clinics or health facilities have specific policies or guidelines pertaining to the care of people with ASD, although most have a policy for managing violent or aggressive patients (Morgan and Morgan 1996 460). The basic tenets of good interpersonal communication—polite and considerate behaviour—are not always within the remit of people with ASD. A lack of social awareness and ability to relate to others lies at the core of ASD as a disability (Gupta 2004 22).

ASD is a spectrum disorder characterized by a distinct constellation of features that are intricately tied to atypical patterns of social and symbolic play development (Goswami 2002 436). For example, the impulse and potential for play, while not entirely absent, is difficult to discern compared to typically developing children (Gupta 2004 25).

The unusual ways in which children with ASD relate to objects and people often set them apart from their peer culture (Whitman 2004 371). As a result, they may become caught in a cycle of exclusion, which deprives them of opportunities to learn how to socialize and play in more conventional and socially accepted ways.

The process leading to children’s inclusion in or exclusion from the peer culture is transactional (Morgan and Morgan 1996 459). Differences among children with ASD in social and language competence, play development, language acquisition, and exposure to and experience with peers will likely influence how they initiate entry into and ultimately experience inclusion in or exclusion from the peer play culture (Whitman 2004 369).

Interpreting the codes and conventions of the peer play culture may be especially complex for children with ASD to comprehend and master without explicit guidance (Gupta 2004 28). Without this tacit understanding; however, the potential to lit in or conform to the expectations of the peer culture is greatly diminished (Wood 2006 459).

By the same token, differences among typically developing peers in social perceptions, skill, experience, language, motivation and/or intuitiveness will likely influence their capacity to accommodate children’s differing abilities and needs (Wood 2006 458; Gupta 2004 25).

The ways in which peers respond to and/or support children with ASD, in turn, will naturally affect the degree and quality of their participation in peer cultural activities (Gupta 2004 27; Morgan and Morgan 1996 459).