Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterised by marked difficulties in behaviour, social interaction, communication and sensory sensitivities. Some of these characteristics are common among people with an autism spectrum disorder; others are typical of the disorder but not necessarily exhibited by all people on the autism spectrum.
People with an autism spectrum disorder may exhibit unusual behaviour due to the difficulties they have responding to their environment. Their behaviour is generally an attempt by them to communicate their feelings or to cope with a situation. Behaviour problems may occur as the result of their heightened sensitivity to a sound or something they may have seen or felt.
For people with an autism spectrum disorder, rigidly sticking to routines and spending their time in repetitive behaviours are ways for them to reduce uncertainty and maintain the predictability of their environment.
Other behaviours may include:
People with an ASD have difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships. They do not respond to many of the non-verbal forms of communication that many of us take for granted like like facial expressions, physical gestures and eye contact. They are often unable to understand and express their needs just as they are unable to interpret and understand the needs of others. This impairs their ability to share interests and activities with other people. For this reason they are likely to appear distant and aloof. Because they are often delayed in their speech and struggle to make sense of other non-verbal forms of communication, they may withdraw into repetitive play and behaviour and avoid interaction.
Their difficulties with social interaction may manifest in the following ways:
People with an ASD invariably have communication difficulties in one form or another. There are some people with an ASD who speak fluently, others who are speech impaired to varying degrees and others still, who are unable to speak at all. Of those who can speak, they will often use language in a very limited or unusual way.
Their line of conversation may involve repeating your phrases or words back to you or asking the same questions over and over. People with an ASD will usually only talk about topics that are of interest to them which makes the give and take in communication difficult. They have difficulty interpreting non-verbal forms of communication like facial expressions, hand gestures and other body language.
Impaired communication is characterised by: