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From the emotional integration to the cognitive construction: The developmental approach of turtle project in children with autism spectrum disorder

Author(s): Di Renzo M, Bianchi di Castelbianco F, Vanadia E, Petrillo M, Racinaro L, et al.


Background: Children with autism spectrum disorder show a deficit in neurobiological processes. This deficit hinders the development of intentional behavior and appropriate problem-solving, leading the child to implement repetitive and stereotyped behaviors and to have difficulties in reciprocal interactions, empathy and in the development of a theory of mind. The objective of this research is to verify the effectiveness of a relationship-based approach on the positive evolution of autistic symptoms. Method: A sample of 80 children with autism spectrum disorder was monitored during the first four years of therapy, through a clinical diagnostic assessment at the time of intake and then in two follow-up. Results: The results showed that through the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule it is possible to assess the socio-relational key elements on which the therapy is based. There was evidence, in fact, of significant improvements after two and four years of therapy, both for children with severe autistic symptoms and for those in autistic spectrum. Conclusions: Socio-relational aspects represent the primary element on which work in therapy with autistic children and can be considered as indicators of a positive evolution and prognosis that will produce improvements even in the cognitive area.

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