The Details Fascinate Me
While fixating on the little things may frustrate those around me, its this attention to detail that makes me truly unique. Children on the autism spectrum who hyper-focus on something may have difficulties forming relationships and relating to others who dont share their interest. But as adults, these traits can be highly valuable in certain fields that rely on experts who not only pay attention to the details, but who are actually fixated on them fields like cybersecurity, engineering, applied mathematics, research and development In other words, what may seem like a challenging trait at first can end up being a highly valuable one later on as I look to make my way in the world.
Autistic People May Act In A Different Way To Other People
Autistic people may:
- find it hard to communicate and interact with other people
- find it hard to understand how other people think or feel
- find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable
- get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events
- take longer to understand information
- do or think the same things over and over
If you think you or your child may be autistic, get advice about the signs of autism.
What Are The Signs Of Autism
The autism diagnosis age and intensity of autisms early signs vary widely. Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, behaviors become obvious as late as age 2 or 3.
Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who dont have autism show a few. Thats why professional evaluation is crucial.
The following may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, ask your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation right away:
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What Does Being Different Mean
From Our Voice, the newsletter of Autism Network International, 1992, Issue 1 Autistic people are different from other people. We hear that all the time, but what does it really mean? To non-autistic people, including most of our parents and teachers, being different is one of the most disturbing things about autism. A treatment program is considered successful to the extent that it causes tshe autistic person to act more like a non-autistic person. An autistic person is considered successful to the extent that he or she has learned to “act normal.” But what do being different and being normal mean to us? Karen and Arnold Reznek ask when I developed an awareness of being different. My answer is that I still haven’t, at least not in the sense they’re talking about. I just didn’t start out with an expectation that I should be the same as other people. I grew up surrounded by a lot of things that weren’t like me–parents and other adults, dogs, hamsters, trees, flowers, furniture–and it never occurred to me to be surprised that they weren’t like me. Other children were just one more category of things in the world. It didn’t occur to me that I was supposed to be one of them.
What has come as something of a revelation to me is that other people DO expect me to be one of them. This was quite surprising to me, and it seemed more than a little bit ridiculous when I realized it, and I still don’t really understand it.
How Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Play
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder tend to be less spontaneous than other kids. Unlike a typical curious little kid pointing to things that catch their eye, children with ASD often appear disinterested or unaware of whats going on around them. They also show differences in the way they play. They may have trouble with functional play, or using toys that have a basic intended use, such as toy tools or cooking set. They usually dont play make-believe, engage in group games, imitate others, collaborate, or use their toys in creative ways.
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Domain A: Social Communication And Social Interaction
Differences or challenges relating to language and social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, both currently or historically. These include difficulty or differences in:
- Social-emotional communication and personal exchanges.
- Non-verbal communicative behaviours used for social interaction.
- Developing, maintaining and understanding relationships.
What Are The Signs And Characteristics Of Autism
The developmental differences, signs and characteristics of autism can vary widely in nature and severity from person to person, and can also develop, change and improve over time.
Age, gender and cognitive ability can also have an impact on how the signs or characteristics of autism present themselves in different people, which is something that should also be considered.
While much of the diagnostic process is related to behavioural attributes, it can be difficult to diagnose autism until they are between 18-20 months. For some, the signs of autism may not become apparent until school years, or adult years when demands exceeds capacity.
Nevertheless, if you feel as though you, your child, or someone you love is on the autism spectrum, you may want to start the diagnostic process.
When I met people with autism, I realised how much I related to them, it made me realise that this is what it is like for everyone else all the time.
Dr Damian Milton, National Autistic Society, UK
As autism is a varied spectrum of characteristics it can be difficult to identify if a person is autistic. To help you better understand the signs and characteristics here is a summary of what to look out for, according to the latest diagnostic guidelines, the DSM-5.
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Signs In Developmental Period
- In order to be diagnosed with autism, symptoms must have been present in the early developmental period of a persons life. It can be difficult to pick up on signs and characteristics of autism for many parents, as raising a child in something that is very new to most people. For parents that already have a child diagnosed with autism, they may be more aware of the signs of autism so they pick up on these earlier. Or for other parents that have an older child that is typically developing, they also may pick up on the signs of autism earlier as they have a child to compare development with. See our signs and checklist for children with autism page for more information.
- For many adults, they many only become aware of the signs or characteristics of autism in relation to their own behaviours later in life. When they then think back over their life they may start to identify how autism may have impacted their life at different moments such as realising that others seemed to know what others were thinking when they found it difficult to read peoples emotions. Many adults with autism have learnt strategies to support their challenges throughout their lifetime. It is therefore important to think about what signs or characteristics were present at a young age when seeking a diagnosis as an adult. See our signs and checklist for adults with autism page for more information.
Restrictive / Repetitive Behaviors May Include:
- Repeating certain behaviors or having unusual behaviors. For example, repeating words or phrases, a behavior called echolalia
- Having a lasting intense interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts
- Having overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects
- Getting upset by slight changes in a routine
- Being more or less sensitive than other people to sensory input, such as light, noise, clothing, or temperature
People with ASD may also experience sleep problems and irritability. Although people with ASD experience many challenges, they may also have many strengths, including:
- Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time
- Being strong visual and auditory learners
- Excelling in math, science, music, or art
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How Is Autism Diagnosed
It can be hard to get a definite diagnosis of autism. Your doctor will focus on behavior and development.
For children, diagnosis usually takes two steps.
- A developmental screening will tell your doctor whether your child is on track with basic skills like learning, speaking, behavior, and moving. Experts suggest that children be screened for these developmental delays during their regular checkups at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months of age. Children are routinely checked specifically for autism at their 18-month and 24-month checkups.
- If your child shows signs of a problem on these screenings, theyâll need a more complete evaluation. This might include hearing and vision tests or genetic tests. Your doctor might want to bring in someone who specializes in autism disorders, like a developmental pediatrician or a child psychologist. Some psychologists can also give a test called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule .
If you werenât diagnosed with autism as a child but notice yourself showing signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Breaking Through The Barriers Of Asd
ASD has no cure. But there is hope through treatment. Many children can learn to communicate and interact. Healthcare providers and mental health experts have learned a lot about how to break through to these children.
Here are some things we know about children with an ASD:
They may not be able to understand your nonverbal communications. They may not react to your smile or frown.
They take things literally. You need to be careful to say exactly what you mean. If you hurry the child by saying “Step on it,” don’t be surprised if he or she asks what to step on.
They may only be able to handle one thought or idea at a time. Keep conversations focused and simple.
They may want to only talk about the one thing they are really interested in at a given time.
They may see things differently than you do. You may not even notice ordinary sounds, tastes, touches, smells, and sights. But these may be physically painful to the child.
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Clinical Development And Diagnoses
Leo Kannerearly infantile autism
The word autism first took its modern sense in 1938 when Hans Asperger of the Vienna University Hospital adopted Bleuler’s terminology autistic psychopaths in a lecture in German about child psychology. Asperger was investigating an ASD now known as Asperger syndrome, though for various reasons it was not widely recognized as a separate diagnosis until 1981.Leo Kanner of the Johns Hopkins Hospital first used autism in its modern sense in English when he introduced the label early infantile autism in a 1943 report of 11 children with striking behavioral similarities. Almost all the characteristics described in Kanner’s first paper on the subject, notably “autistic aloneness” and “insistence on sameness”, are still regarded as typical of the autistic spectrum of disorders. It is not known whether Kanner derived the term independently of Asperger.
Kanner’s reuse of autism led to decades of confused terminology like infantile schizophrenia, and child psychiatry’s focus on maternal deprivation led to misconceptions of autism as an infant’s response to “refrigerator mothers“. Starting in the late 1960s autism was established as a separate syndrome.
Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism is not a single disorder, but a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. Every individual on the autism spectrum has problems to some degree with social interaction, empathy, communication, and flexible behavior. But the level of disability and the combination of symptoms varies tremendously from person to person. In fact, two kids with the same diagnosis may look very different when it comes to their behaviors and abilities.
If youre a parent dealing with a child on the autism spectrum, you may hear many different terms including high-functioning autism, atypical autism, autism spectrum disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. These terms can be confusing, not only because there are so many, but because doctors, therapists, and other parents may use them in dissimilar ways.
But no matter what doctors, teachers, and other specialists call the autism spectrum disorder, its your childs unique needs that are truly important. No diagnostic label can tell you exactly what challenges your child will have. Finding treatment that addresses your childs needs, rather than focusing on what to call the problem, is the most helpful thing you can do. You dont need a diagnosis to start getting help for your childs symptoms.
Whats in a name?
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Plenty Of Genes Involved
Some genetic conditions are simple, and they stem from one unusual item found in one strand of DNA. Autism is much different, and that complexity makes the condition a lot harder to spot.
In January 2020, researchers published the results of a massive study that included:
- A large study group. More than 35,000 people sent in samples for analysis.
- ASD data. Of the 35,000 participants, almost 12,000 had autism spectrum disorder.
- Gene sequencing. Testing methods picked up rare mutations that might stay masked with other methods.
Per the results, more than 102 genes were attached to autism risk. This is a huge number, and researchers suspect that the genes intertwine and intermingle.
Some of them are associated with other developmental delays. Others seem to increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders.
The researchers dont yet know how the genes work, so parents cant walk into a laboratory and ask for an autism gene screening. There is too much data to look for and a lot we dont know.
But this study suggests that many genes, working together, could raise autism risks. That data could be helpful as researchers look for ways to treat, and perhaps even cure, ASD.
What Is Aspergers Syndrome
In 1994 Aspergers Syndrome appeared as a separate presentation of a pervasive developmental disorder in standard diagnostic manuals, characterised by many as a milder type of autism.
The key characteristics of Asperger syndrome identified at the time were:
- Difficulties with social interaction and social communication
- Restricted and repetitive behaviours
- No intellectual disability
- No delay in verbal speech development
However, the idea that Aspergers is milder than autism has proven to be problematic, because it implies that living with Aspergers is less challenging than living with autism.
In May 2013, the diagnostic criteria for autism changed with the release of the latest diagnostic manual .
Since then Autistic Disorder and Aspergers syndrome are no longer differentiated as separate presentation of pervasive developmental disorders, but are now included under the single diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder or referred to as autism or the autism spectrum.
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Living With An Autism Diagnosis
Receiving an ASD diagnosis as an adult could mean a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to the world. And it can help you learn how to better work with your strengths and strengthen areas of your life that are challenging.
Getting diagnosed can help you gain a different perspective on your childhood. It can also help those around you to understand and empathize more with your unique characteristics.
Better understanding the set of challenges you face can help you find new and inventive ways to work with or around those challenges. You can also work with your clinician and your family to seek treatments that may be right for you.
Dressing Skills & Hyperlexia: 30 Tips & Strategies To Try
1. Label bins and drawers so your child knows where to find socks, underwear, etc. You can use just words, just pictures, or pictures paired with words. You could also include notes about when to wear certain clothing right on the labels.
2. Use a visual schedule, chart, or checklist that outlines what clothing your child needs to wear. You can always just write this down on a whiteboard each morning or use this blank routine chart.
3. Explicitly teach them how to pick clothing thats appropriate for the weather, season, and/or occasion. This free choosing what to wear social story can help.
4. Opt for loose clothing that is easy to put on. That means skip the skinny jeans, anything with snaps or buttons, or things with zippers or belts. Instead, focus on clothing that will build your childs confidence because theyre easy to put on. Basically, pick less complicated clothing options and consider outdoor gear too .
5. Use socks that have colored heels so your child can easily tell which way the socks go. The colored heel acts as a visual cue.
6. Explicitly teach them how to find the tag so they know which is the front or back and which is the inside or outside.
7. Label clothing and shoes with words like front, back, left, or right so they know which way the clothing should be worn.
9. Have them get dressed in front of a mirror so they can see what is happening. This tip works great for buttoning up shirts too.
10. Start by teaching them how to undress first.
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Autism Symptoms And Behaviors
Individuals with autism may present a range of symptoms, such as:
- Reduced eye contact
- Not engaging in imaginative play
- Repeating gestures or sounds
- Closely focused interests
- Indifference to temperature extremes
These are just a few examples of the symptoms an individual with autism may experience. Any individual could have some, all, or none of these symptoms. Keep in mind that having these symptoms does not necessarily mean a person has autism. Only a qualified medical professional can diagnose autism spectrum disorder.
Most importantly, an individual with autism is first and foremost an individual. Learning about the symptoms can help you start to understand the behaviors and challenges related to autism, but thats not the same as getting to know the individual. Each person with autism has their own strengths, likes, dislikes, interests, challenges, and skills, just like you do.