A new study has found that autistic children are able to communicate in their environment, even in the absence of the presence of a therapist.
Dr David Weill of the University of Oxford said the findings were “a really important piece of research”.
“Autism is a spectrum, it can be difficult to classify, but there are certainly differences in communication that could be explained by the different aspects of the disorder,” Dr Weill told the BBC.
“We have known that autistic people are able communicate with each other, but what we’ve been looking at is how they communicate when they don’t have someone around them, in a real world situation.”
The study found autistic children were able to “communicate” in the presence or absence of a person they could talk to about the day’s events, such as being hungry or tired, or with a caregiver, a caregive or a parent.
“This was surprising and exciting,” Dr Usill said.
“It suggests that even when autistic people don’t need a therapist, they may still be able to express themselves.”
He said the research showed that there was “still room for improvement” in understanding autistic children and their interactions with others.
Dr Weill said autism was a “very complex” disorder, with many features.
“There are several things that can cause autism, including environmental triggers and genes,” he said.
The study involved 15 autistic children aged between six and 14 years old, who were evaluated over a six-month period.
Dr Usill has previously shown autistic children can use facial expressions to convey their thoughts, and they also can identify “language” that is different to language that they normally learn, such a talking dog.
“What we are trying to do is look at how autistic children use language to communicate,” Dr He said.
Dr Meghan Clements, from the Autism Society of Great Britain, said the study was “very important”.
“It’s a step forward in understanding autism, and I think we should all be very careful about how we treat our autistic children,” she said.