All About Autism

What Is Autism? Autism is a general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. Autism can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and stomach troubles.

What are the symptoms of Autism?

Autism is described by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. However, symptoms and their severity vary widely across these three core areas.

You might see problems with:

  • Eye contact
  • Absence of facial expressions
  • Body language (i.e. doesn’t point)
  • Interacting with other people
  • Turn-taking
  • Communicating their interests

Children with autism:

  • Need repeated practice to be successful in situations or environments.
  • Need additional supports in stressful and/or unfamiliar situations and environments.
  • May have significant communication difficulties which can turn into challenging behaviors.
  • May have difficulty processing sensory stimulus, particularly in unfamiliar locations (i.e. lights and sounds).

What does it mean to have a diagnosis of Autism? Each individual with Autism is unique. Many of those with autism have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40% have average to above average intellectual abilities. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25% of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means. For some, this means the development and delivery of more effective treatments that can address significant challenges in communication and physical health. For others, it means increasing acceptance, respect and support.

What’s the best way to communicate with my child?

  • Use exact descriptions.
  • Talk with your hands.
  • Try not to say too much at once.
  • Break tasks into small steps.
  • Show them pictures and give examples.
  • Act out what you’re describing.
  • Point to an object and act out actions.

Helpful hints:

  • Repetition is very important.
  • Provide child with repeated opportunities to become comfortable and acclimated.
  • Use videos, pictures and the Internet to expose your child to a new environment or situation beforehand.
  • BE PREPARED (favorite toys/objects, headphones, bring what helps the child be successful).

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