Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing (autism.org.uk)
People with autism also experience a need for sameness or familiarity that can lead to them having, unusually strong interests and/or rigid behaviour. Autism is also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). Autism has had various different names in the past (e.g. Asperger’s, classic autism).
There are lots of approaches and strategies that can help young people with autism and their families manage the difficulties associated with autism. Ensuring that a child with autism has the right support in educational settings and that their social, emotional, and behavioural needs are well understood across settings is essential. This will also enable then to develop their own social skills and competencies.
Everyone’s experience of autism is different. The ‘Amazing Things Happen’ video by Alexander Amelines provides an interesting and useful explanation of autism. This can be accessed via You Tube and can be found in several different languages. There are also additional episodes which look at diversity, communication, perception, behaviour and strengths.
The severity of autistic difficulties varies enormously between individuals. Autism is therefore referred to as a ‘spectrum’ disorder or condition. However, everyone with autism experiences significant difficulties with (a) social communication and social interaction and (b) restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. Many people with autism will also have problems with ‘executive functioning’ – they have significant difficulties with planning, organizing, and regulating their behaviour. Strong sensory preferences and/or sensitivities are also very commonly seen in children with autism.
The autistic brain comes with certain strengths or “superpowers”, although all people are unique and not all strengths will apply to all individuals. Understanding and celebrating the different ways in which the autistic brain works can help your child or adult to flourish.