AUTISM IS A LIFE LONG DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER. THAT AFFECTS HOW A PERSON EXPERIENCES THE WORLD THEY LIVE IN AND HOW THEY INTERACT WITH THOSE IN THAT WORLD.
Autism is a life long developmental disorder. That affects how a person experiences the world they live in and how they interact with those in that world. Although with the right educational and social support there can be significant improvements to a young persons life experiences some of the main characteristics of autism will remain.Autism affects a person’s ability to develop social skills naturally their ability be to imaginative and how they communicate. Autism is often thought of as a triad of impairments.
There are thought to be around 700’000 people in the UK who are on the autistic spectrum. All autistic people share difficulties within the triad of impairment yet how and to what degree varies from person to person. Some autistic people have learning disabilities where others have exceptionally high IQ’s. There are also many other conditions that can co exist with autism such as Dyspraxia, Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyslexia.
There was a period of time when people who had a diagnosis of autism were thought of as having a varying scale of severity. Imagine a ruler that everyone is placed upon. The danger of this style of thinking is that it concentrates on what a person can’t do rather than what they can do. It also doesn’t allow for variations in conditions that can cause an autistic person to display more autistic behaviours. My own children have provided me with a fantastic example of this. We went on holiday to Butlins for four days. My youngest son who has ADHD usually stands out like a sore thumb in a crowded environment, he is unable to sit or stand still and gets quite agitated in crowds however in the arcade are of Butlins he was calm and focused on the arcade games. He was clearly having a wonderful time and was very sad when we had to go home. In contrast to this my other two teens who have ASD and sensory processing disorder like to try and blend in the best they can, they have learnt good social skills and although not completely comfortable in public places cope extremely well. My daughter is also a keen actress and takes great pride in the fact that she can recall a complete work of Shakespeare. Yet by the fourth day of being at Butlins both had lost their ability to talk clearly, they had retreated right into themselves making it very difficult to understand what few words they were using.
Had they of been placed on a line of how autistic they were on that day they would have been high up classed as non verbal. This simple classification would also have a huge impact on them and what others perceive they can or could not do.
“Oh she can’t have a speaking part in a school play, she can’t talk”
“Oh he can’t have a job as a manager he doesn’t have the communication skills”
Putting autistic people onto a line also works the other way with assumptions being made, assuming because they have good language skills that they would not need to be pre warned of change or need support in a loud environment.
“you’re not that autistic, you should try harder”
Rather then think of autism as a line that every one sits on think of it as a circle made up of various processes. Each person with autism will experience each process differently and each process is depended upon many external factors. It is quite possible to have a person with a diagnosis of autism who can remember and act out a play by Shakespear yet they are unable to ride a bike or attend a fireworks display. Equally there maybe a person with a diagnosis of autism who is unable to be organised enough to function day to day without extra support yet can understand the most complex computer coding.
Take the time to concentrate on what a autistic person can do and then use that as a starting block to teach new skills or introduce new experiences. Despite what is sometimes written in the media it is a very complex journey to receive a diagnosis of autism. Please never dismiss someone’s diagnosis, if you happen to meet a child who you have been told has autism yet you don’t see it remember the spectrum circle, also take a moment to wonder how many hours of behind the scenes work has gone on from parents, family members, teachers and other professionals.
Autism is such an interesting subject one which I am very passionate about, I hope you will continue this blog journey with me as we learn more and more about the wonders of autism.