Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the way the brain functions. It affects individuals from all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Boys are four times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls, and the first signs usually appear before the age of three. Currently, the CDC estimates 1 in 54 children has been identified with ASD.
The primary characteristics of ASD are:
- Impairment in social communication and interaction, which can include:
- Difficulty with normal back-and-forth conversation
- Difficulty initiating or responding to social interactions
- Differences with facial expressions and tempo of speech
- Difficulty sharing in imaginative play or making friends
- Challenges understanding social cues
- Presence of restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior, which can include:
- Narrow fields of interest
- Strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects
- Difficulties with transitions
- Rigid thinking patterns
- Stimming/Hand flapping
- Hypo- or hypersensitive to sensory input
Autism affects each person differently. A person with ASD may have:
- Different ways of communicating (with words or without words, communication devices)
- Sporadic movements for expression (waving hands, jumping, pacing)
- Difficulty changing from one topic or task to another
- Strong ability to focus on a subject or topic
- Strong attention to detail
Rather than labeling someone as low functioning or high functioning, which isn’t an accurate description, and can undermine the hard work that many people on the spectrum put in each day, focus on their abilities and support needs.
The autism spectrum is broad and varied and no two people are alike. Each person has their own strengths and abilities that everyone should celebrate.
If you found this article helpful, please forward and share it with someone who who would find it useful.