St. John's SNS Arklow

What is an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

What is an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

It is a complex, invisible condition which a person is born with. It a developmental condition which means it affects the way a person communicates, interacts and understands other people. It is described as a spectrum meaning it impacts different people in different ways, to differing degrees at different times and in different situations.

Anyone diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder has displayed some difficulties in the following areas:

  1. Social Communication Impairments
  2. Repetitive or Restrictive Behaviours

Social Communication Impairments

  • Difficulties in this area may include difficulties with verbal and non verbal behaviours
  • Verbal difficulties might include a delay in learning to talk or in the development of language, difficulty understanding language (comprehension skills), literal thinking and speech (I take things very literally), repetitive use of language, unusual intonation when speaking or a very monotone delivery when communicating verbally.
  • Non verbal behaviours might include difficulty in understanding social context (reading people or the situation correctly to fully understand what is happening), empathising with others or appropriately interpreting other peoples social cues, body language or facial expressions.

Repetitive or Restrictive Behaviours

  • This includes sensory sensitivities or behaviours e.g. I wear sunglasses as I don't like bright lights or I don't like certain smells, textures or the feel of clothes. I may engage in stimming or self stimulatory behaviours to help me feel better e.g. I might flap my hands, rock back and forth or repeat certain words. I am trying to regulate my sensory processing when I do this.
  • I like routines and can get very upset when my routine is not going well or when something interrupts it
  • I can have very specific interests and I will become an expert in these e.g. Thomas the Tank Engine or dinosaurs or the world of animation and games

Having an Autism Spectrum Disorder can affect me in many ways as seen in the mind map above but there are some things would like you to know about me:

  1. I am first and foremost a child whether I have autism or not. Don't treat me different than you treat everyone else.
  2. My senses are out of sync. I can't help this- please try to understand.
  3. Please distinguish between times when I won't ( I choose not to) and when I can't (I'm not able to) do something
  4. I am a concrete thinker ( I interpret language literally).
  5. Listen to all the ways I am trying to communicate with you and please listen to me.
  6. Picture this- I am a visual learner- I learn by seeing. Too much language can at times overwhelm me.
  7. Focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can't do.
  8. Help me with social interactions and please be patient with me. Teach me how to interact appropriately.
  9. Identify what triggers my meltdowns.
  10. Love me unconditionally. I will be loyal and loving to you in whatever ways I can.

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