Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurobiological disorder. Individuals with ASD usually display impairments in the triad of social interaction, social communication and restricted behaviour, interests and activities. There are other diagnoses that are similar to, and classified in the spectrum of Autism, such as Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rett’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. Diagnosis of ASD is just a label. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
Individuals with ASD have more than the triad of impairment; they may experience sensory issues, language development issues, health & growth issues and even muscle tone issues. They avoid eye contact or give minimal eye contact when talking to others, some may not be able to talk and rely on alternative communication devices to ‘talk’ to others. They prefer to be alone as they have trouble understanding cues and norms of socialising (they have impairment in social communication and interaction, remember?) They may avoid loud noises, crowded spaces as the sounds may be unbearable and change in routines are not appreciated, especially if they are not made aware of the changes.
Individuals with ASD have strengths too. Their keen ´ senses may make them talented in their respective areas. People with autism who are highly talented are referred to as ‘savants’. There are savants who are able to remember names, numbers and key details at a glance, able to draw a whole city from just one look, and also become musical prodigies. Since people with ASD are excellent with keeping to details and being consistent, they make good candidates to become chefs, baristas, quality controllers and other jobs that require precision and consistency.
But not all children with autism will automatically grow up to be savants. A lot of hard work, intervention and mediation of skills, soft and hard, needs to be taught to the child with autism as they are not able to learn or pick things up as fast as a typical child. This is not to say that they are in any way less able or inferior, this is just to highlight that they learn and need exposure to learning differently.
What I have written here, is by no means the full picture of autism. It is just a small tip of the ‘iceberg’. There are a lot more information that can be shared and I am more than happy to have readers put in comments and share in this blog. Darrasa is here to learn too.