Autism is a spectrum condition which affects how people interact and communicate with the world.
According the statistics in the UK – more than one in every 100 people have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Overt symptoms gradually begin after the age of six months, become established by age two or three years and tend to continue through adulthood, although often in more muted form. It is distinguished by a characteristic triad of symptoms: impairments in social interaction, impairments in communication, and repetitive behaviour.
Occasionally the parents, or even the autistic person may not realize the autism, but strangers whom the person first time encounters they recognize.
Autism can be diagnosed by a special education professional who has such a specialization.
Autism in children:
Children can be diagnosed as autistic when they’re quite young, in some cases from the age of two. But not everyone is diagnosed early in life.
Autism in adults:
It is quite common for a child to not get their diagnosis until they are older, or even an adult, particularly if they don’t have accompanying learning disabilities.
Signs of autism in adults:
- Communication challenges
- You have trouble reading social cues.
- Participating in conversation is difficult.
- You have trouble relating to others’ thoughts or feelings.
- You’re unable to read body language and facial expressions well. (You might not be able to tell whether someone is pleased or unhappy with you.)
- You use flat, monotone, or robotic speaking patterns that don’t communicate what you’re feeling.
- You invent your own descriptive words and phrases.
- Understanding figures of speech and turns of phrase (like “The early bird catches the worm” or “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”) is difficult.
- You don’t like to look at someone’s eyes when talking to them.
- You talk in the same patterns and tone whether you’re at home, with friends, or at work.
- You talk a lot about one or two favourite topics.
- Building and maintaining close friendships is difficult.
Emotional and behavioural difficulties
- You have trouble regulating your emotions and your responses to them.
- Changes in routines and expectations cause outbursts or meltdowns.
- When something unexpected happens, you respond with an emotional meltdown.
- You get upset when your things are moved or rearranged.
- You have rigid routines, schedules, and daily patterns that must be maintained no matter what.
- You have repetitive behaviours and rituals.
- You make noises in places where quiet is expected.
- You care deeply and are knowledgeable about a few specific areas of interest (like a historical period, book series, film, industry, hobby, or field of study).
- You are very smart in one or two challenging academic subject areas, but have great difficulty doing well in others.
- You experience hypersensitivity or impaired sensitivity to sensory input (like pain, sound, touch, or smell).
- You feel like you’re clumsy and have difficulty with coordination.
- You prefer to work and play for yourself, rather than with others.
- Others perceive you as eccentric or an academic.