Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism is an umbrella description which includes Autistic disorder, Asperger's syndrome and atypical autism. Autism affects the way information is taken in and stored in the brain. People with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and other activities. Impairments usually exist across three main areas of functioning:

  • social interaction
  • communication, and
  • behaviour (restricted interests and repetitive behaviours).

Many people with an autism spectrum disorder also have sensory sensitivities, i.e. over or under sensitivity to sight, touch, taste, smell, sound, temperature or pain.

Some characteristics of Asperger's syndrome

Those with Asperger's syndrome are typically of average or above average intelligence, and can show a wide range of behaviours and social skills. People with Asperger's syndrome may display some of the following characteristics:

  • difficulty in forming friendships
  • ability to talk well, either too much or too little, but difficulty with communication
  • inability to understand that communication involves listening as well as talking
  • a very literal understanding of what has been said. For example, when asked to 'get lost', as in go away, a person with Asperger's syndrome will be confused and may literally try to 'get lost'
  • inability to understand the rules of social behaviour, the feelings of others and to 'read' body language. For example, a person with Asperger's syndrome may not know that someone is showing that they are cross when frowning
  • sensitivity to criticism
  • a narrow field of interests. For example a person with Asperger's syndrome may focus on learning all there is to know about cars, trains or computers
  • eccentricity.

Tips

  • Establish routines and predictable environments.
  • Inform people with autism what is about to happen before it occurs.