Autism Spectrum Disorder – Holly’s Bird Nest
Individuals with autism are just like every person, unique and each individual on the autism spectrum will have their own strengths and weaknesses, individuals who are autistic are autistic for life.
While treatment and support can improve the quality of life for people on the autism spectrum, at the time of this article, there is no known cure for the condition, but ways to help make life easier for the autistic individuals and their families.
Many professionals will say that autism should not even be thought of as an illness. Although the specific cause of ASD is still unknown, there have been cases where it seems to have been genetically passed on.
Many individuals as they age, that have been diagnosed with autism and on the spectrum, consider their condition to be a part of their identity, not as a mental illness or disease, just the way their life is. It is said that some individuals on the “higher”, not affected as much, end of the spectrum, really don’t know they have problems, it a way of life.
In addition to difficulty communicating, forming relationships, using language, and understanding abstract concepts, individuals with an autism diagnosis can also have sensory difficulties. These may include being either under (hypo) or over (hyper) sensitive to sound, light, color, and even touch, such as certain fabrics or items of clothing like zippers, seams, and buttons.
Some individuals on the autism spectrum may have no functional speech and communicate using gestures or pictures, while others may have an extensive and well-developed vocabulary.
Other individuals on the autism spectrum may have significant learning disabilities and be intellectually disabled, while others may have exceptionally high, while others on the spectrum may be socially withdrawn, while others may be socially active, although often in an eccentric, or sometimes oblivious manner.
Learning disabilities experienced by people with ASD can range from mild to severe but can affect all aspects of a person’s life.
However, those on the autism spectrum who have learning disabilities can often live independently with at least some degree of support. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jerry Seinfeld, and many others are great examples of higher functioning autistic individuals who have been successful even though they all have functional problems that can be seen.
The learning disabilities associated with ASD are primarily related to challenges with processing information, as well as other outlying factors that can affect learning, such as communication and social skills.
Individuals on the autism spectrum who also have learning disabilities can often struggle with both verbal and non-verbal communication, such as reading facial expressions. They tend to take each word literally and can struggle with metaphors and expressions like, “it’s raining cats and dogs!”
Autistic individuals, particularly children, have a hard time playing and using their imagination. As a result, they may end up spending more time alone, or alongside other children without actually interacting with them. Some individuals on the autism spectrum become particularly passionate about certain subjects and, as children, have an excellent memory.
Finally, autistic people with learning difficulties have a hard time adjusting to new schedules and can struggle with transferring their skills to other tasks or activities. They prefer routine and consistency and do not have excellent coping skills or resilience to change.
Autistic people who find social skills challenging can find it hard to participate appropriately in class. They are often unable to follow directions and need to be given them in short, direct sentences. They may also speak out of turn, not understand when to stop speaking, or say things that are inappropriate for the classroom setting.
This may be in part because they don’t understand the social norms of a school situation but also because they’re having trouble focusing and don’t know what to do about it. It may also be attributed to anxiety. On the other hand, some children on the autism spectrum are not interested in making friends. They may use breaks in the school day to read or engage in activities that are more appealing to them, preferring not to spend time with their peers.
While it is helpful to understand and develop some social skills for later life, young people on the autism spectrum should also not feel forced into social situations when they may be more comfortable and perfectly happy participating in a solitary activity, and this should carry into adulthood, forcing social issues can cause further anxiety and even regression.
Stress and anxiety can also have a profound effect on the ability of an autistic person to learn, and their reactions to situations.
When something as routine as a timetable change or a substitute teacher can be unsettling for an autistic child who thrives on routine and rigidity, managing in a learning environment can become even more difficult for those who have anxiety as well as being on the autism spectrum.
With the proper support and treatment, it is entirely possible to teach people on the autism spectrum to develop their social skills, but they will need to be broken down, explained in a literal and straightforward manner, and practiced repeatedly. If this is done from early childhood, this might make secondary school and even college or university, and the workforce more manageable for autistic people, and helping the autistic person to feel more comfortable.
We are learning more about autism and the spectrum of the disorders that affects 1 in 40 children and how we can make life easier and acceptance greater every day.