Germany

Insider perspective 1, Bernhard J. Schmidt

1.) What are the diagnostic criteria for autism in your country?

In addition to the criteria of DSM and ICD, a differential diagnosis is sought.
These are intended to rule out other causes of autistic behavior (as opposed to autism).
To be used
in children ADI-R, ADOS …
in adolescents and adults various questionnaires


2.) What is the most common autism theory with you?

As in the United States, parents are considered the experts in Germany as well, and they determine the perception of autism through „autism deutschland“ as a parent organization.
This follows the American dogmas
– Autism is genetic
– is not treatable / curable
– Parents are the only real experts
Development dynamic approaches are rejected.


3.) Are there alternative autism theories in your country? Which?

Yes, a development-dynamic and socio-psychological theory by Bernhard J. Schmidt.
This does not see autism as a disease, but as vulnerability within a socio-cultural environment.

www.autismusberatung.info


4.) What is the most common therapy approach for autistic children?

Until a few years ago, Germany followed the US-American conception and mainly applied ABA.
In recent years, this has shifted somewhat towards child-centered approaches such as DIR / Floortime (R).
One of the reasons for this is the strong protest of autistic self-advocates against ABA.


5.) Are there alternative therapies? Which?

www.auja.org


6.) Defining culture as an interplay of tradition and innovation, has your country a more traditional (e.g. importance of authority and hierarchy) or innovative structure?

Through National Socialism, the emigration of many Jewish scientists, the World War II and also the idea of „unworthy life“ Germany has largely lost its cultural and also scientific roots.
After World War II there was an Americanization, also and especially in psychology.


7.) What are the severity levels of a developmental disorder diagnosed as autism?

The entire spectrum from early childhood autism to Asperger and HFA. However, public perception is dominated by Asperger syndrome and HFA due to the massive involvement of autistic self-advocates. The concerns and needs of families with early childhood autistics are largely overlooked.

8.) What are the philosophical and psychological foundations? In Russia e.g. it is the Vygotsky-developed „cultural-historical-concept“ [Vygotsky, L.S: Fundamentals of Defectology].

See point 6. A behaviouristic perspective is dominant. References to earlier philosophical approaches are found more in Russian psychology than in the country of origin Germany.

Additions, criticism, different perspective? Please send your ideas to schmidt@autism-across-cultures.org