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Definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism is a spectrum condition hence being called Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

 

All people with autism share certain difficulties, but having autism will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions (also referred to as overlap/co-occurrence). The other conditions that come under this are also called hidden impairments, developmental disorders, neurodiversity, learning difficulties.

 

The characteristics of ASD vary from one person to another. This means that each person may need different levels and types of support.

 

For a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having had persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests since early childhood, to the extent that these "limit and impair everyday functioning".

 

Terms that have been used include autism, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism spectrum condition (ASC), atypical autism, classic autism, Kanner autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), high-functioning autism (HFA) Asperger syndrome and pathological demand avoidance (PDA).

Autism is strongly linked to genetic factors. As our understanding of the human genome increases, we are able to identify genetic markers which may result in autism. For different conditions – for example cystic fibrosis – the genetic markers are clear. With autism, there seems to be a range of genetic markers which may produce autism, but which do not invariably produce autism. As an example, there are cases of identical twins where one twin has autism and the other does not. The current thinking, therefore, is that autism results from a combination of a genetic difference and one or more environmental factors.

Autism involves a difference in brain development. Understanding is at a very early stage, but researchers are now looking at neural pathways and at (for example) the length of neural connections, and at the differences in brain activity in response to stimuli.

 

The effects of autism can vary enormously. Typical effects can include:

     > High anxiety, probably because of reduced ability to understand the world

     > Repetitive behaviour

     > Lack of interest (for children) in playing with other children

     > Lack of understanding of facial expressions or tones of voice

     > Literal understanding of words: a person with autism may have difficulty in understanding common

        metaphors such as “it’s raining cats and dogs”

What is Autism Video:

 

Communication: 

 

Communication is the exchange of information by speaking, writing or other methods. People with autism can find some aspects of communication difficult. Communication doesn't just cover the ability to speak, read and write, it also covers the subtleties of communication.

 

Communication: 

 

Communication is the exchange of information by speaking, writing or other methods. People with autism can find some aspects of communication difficult. Communication doesn't just cover the ability to speak, read and write, it also covers the subtleties of communication.

Social Interaction: 

 

Social interaction is very closely linked to communication. It is the way people talk and act with each other and various structures in society. Some people with autism can find social interaction stressful if they do not know the rules for a particular situation. If you do not know the rules, it can make it difficult to know how and when to join in, you can appear too familiar, or on the other hand too formal, and you can go too far without realising. A person with autism who struggles with social interaction may not pay attention to others, may appear aloof, distant and uninterested, may lack some social skills, and may not understand relationships.

Rigidity of Thought:

In people with autism, rigidity of thought is characterised by not knowing what might happen if a plan doesn't happen and needing structure and routine to stay calm. In some cases, this need can lead to rigid behaviours, routines and rituals. Free time can be very difficult for people with autism as they may be unsure of what to do in this unplanned time. Some people with autism have excellent attention to detail, but may not be able to see the bigger picture. They may also have difficulty putting things into context.

Sensory Differences:

People with autism can be over- or under-sensitive to any of their senses including: Touch, Sound, Sight, Taste, Smell, Balance (vestibular) and awareness of where your body is in space (proprioception). A person with autism can have a number of different sensory issues, and can over-sensitive to one sense and under-sensitive to another. Sensory issues can have a huge impact on all other aspects of a person's life. When a person is stressed, the sensory issues can become much worse.