Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects people in just the way the label states. Every person is impacted to a varying degree of intensity in a variety of areas; therefore, it is difficult to describe in a singular definition. It is important to remember that autism isn’t something a person “has”, it’s not a disease that can be cured. Rather it is a different way of being that is neither bad nor aberrant…it’s just different.
People with ASD may have different ways of moving, sensing the world, communicating, socializing or learning. They may also express their interests or fascinations in a way that is perceived as different from the “norm”. These potential differences will be described here.
Movement differences include excessive, atypical, and loss of typical movement. These differences may affect postures, actions, speech, or emotions. Examples include the inability to sit for extended periods of time, hand flapping, singing or humming without realizing, or struggling to transition. The intensity and complexity of movement differences vary from person to person.
People with ASD may have differences in their sense of hearing, touch, smell, sight, taste or pain. This may be either excess or lack of sensation. It is important to be aware of individual differences in this area since certain sounds, sights or smells may be extremely overwhelming.
Communication differences vary from person to person and affect speech and language, some people use little to no spoken language. Many people have found success in using augmentative communication systems such as voice output systems or picture exchange. It is vital that people be given a form of communication that suits their needs and differences in order for them to communicate.
A common stereotype is that people with autism don’t like to socially interact with others. On the contrary, we are finding that it is more a matter of differences in understanding social interactions which may lead to confusion or frustration. Another factor may be difficulties in effectively communicating which goes back to ensuring that people are taught to use a communication system that fits their needs.
People with ASD may have differences in the way they learn stemming from differences in processing style. Every person has differences in the way they learn and process, so it is very important to understand those differences so information can be presented, heard and processed in a way that is compatible with individual learning styles.
It is unfortunate that many people continue to think that deep interests and fascinations in people with ASD constitute something that is aberrant. We all have interests that border on excessive, and we learn to use these fascinations to our benefit. For example, think of someone you know who is obsessed with computers. Do we take those computers away and tell them to stop obsessing? Or, rather, do we teach them how to use them to create games, stories, and artwork?
Common Forms of Spectrum Disorders
Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have regarding any or all of the above mentioned spectrum disorders.