|About Autism Spectrum Disorder|
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a brain-based condition, which is, where the brain hasn’t developed in a typical way. Although no two children with ASD are the same, they all face challenges in interacting and communicating with others. And they also have either a narrow range of interests or engage in repetitive activities.
|Autism Spectrum Disorder: Difficulties and Abilities|
Children with ASD have a wide range of difficulties and abilities. In fact, some have very impressive skills and strengths. One child with ASD might know lots of words and have a very good memory. Other children might respond mostly to things they can see, making them good at completing puzzles and sorting objects by shape and color.
By about the age of three, however, all children with ASD will show difficulties in two main areas – social communication and interests and behavior.
- Social communication
Children with ASD usually take longer than other children to learn language and often find it hard to make sense of language, so understanding simple instructions and social norms can be difficult. Almost all children with ASD learn at least some language but they don’t always communicate for purely social reasons and often appear to be uninterested in social contact with others.
- Might not respond when people speak or gesture towards them, even when their names are called out.
- Often make little eye contact with others and usually won’t copy other people’s actions, like clapping or waving.
- Usually don’t share interests with others, rarely pointing at anything or showing interest in giving or sharing.
- Aren’t very interested in chatting or playing, especially with other children.
When children with ASD do have language skills, they:
- Will talk about their own special interests and rarely use language skills to communicate with others.
- Might focus on categorizing everything around them, such as labeling all their toy trains.
- Might echo what they hear, repeating patterns of words without attaching any meaning to them.
- Rarely use nonverbal gestures, like nodding their heads or hand gestures to communicate.
Even from a young age, children with ASD will often prefer the same routines. They might:
- Need to eat from the same plate and drink from the same cup at every meal.
- Take the same route from home to child care each time.
- Be upset by changes like moving furniture.
Many children with ASD also like to repeat behavior, sometimes in an obsessive way. They might:
- Like to repeatedly flick switches or open and shut doors.
- Like lining their toys up in a particular way over and over again.
- Like to collect things like twigs, string or balls.
- Tightly clutch their favorite objects and become upset if they’re taken away.
Many children with ASD also have sensory issues. They might:
- Be especially sensitive to sound and raise their hands to their ears to block out noise.
- Like to watch spinning objects, such as fans and wheels.
- Like the feel of objects with a certain texture.
- Want to eat only foods with a certain texture – for example, they might be happy to eat soft, smooth food, but will refuse anything lumpy.
- Use their peripheral vision a lot, or tilt their heads to look at objects from a particular angle.