What is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability, which affects the way a person communicates and relates to others and the world around them.
Both adults and children have problems relating to others.
Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.
Autism affects each person in a different way. They will all have the same characteristics to a greater or lesser degree depending on how their Autism affects them as an individual.
Autism can be socially crippling, leaving the sufferer unable to form friendships because of their lack of understanding of other people’s emotions or feelings and their failure to recognise facial expressions or gestures.
They may have little knowledge of social rules and interactions. For example they will dominate conversations and have little interest in what the other person has to say, or will read someone’s newspaper over the other person’s shoulder and be totally unaware that this is inappropriate behavior.
Some people with autism can behave strangely or inappropriately such as flapping or rocking.
The reasons for this:
- Unable to express their feelings
- Feeling anxious or stressed
- Feeling happy or excited
People with Autism can have little imagination especially with social situations for example needing to know of changes to their routine in advance or finding it difficult to cope with new situations that they are not familiar with.
They can take things very literally and may not understand metaphors, jokes or sarcasm. For example the phase ‘that’s cool’ associated with things being good can be interpreted in its literal form as something being cold.
The majority of people with Autism find it hard to cope with lots of verbal instructions at once, as their thought process is slower than other people’s and it takes them longer to digest and process information.
Some may have problems with their fine motor skills such as being unable to use a pair of scissors or their gross motor skills can be affected for example, walking into things or at times they may appear clumsy or unsteady on their feet.
People with Autism have difficulty making sense of the world around them. To them the world is a very confusing place, a place with lots of sounds, colours, shapes, people and unclear boundaries that they find difficult to understand.