What is it like to have autism?
Reality to a child with autism is a confusing mix of events, people, places, sounds and sights. There seem to be no clear boundaries, order or meaning in their lives.
Social interaction and communication are fundamental components of our daily lives and influence our ability to fit in and function in society.
Imagine if you suddenly woke up in a foreign country, did not speak the language and had no way of effectively communicating with the people around you. Furthermore, imagine how it would be if the people around you had a different set of social rules, for example, the way they greet each other and you were unable to understand what they were doing.
How would you feel? How would you react? How would you cope?
To varying degrees, this is how children with autism experience their surroundings on a daily basis. Their initial responses are often to find unique ways of understanding and coping with the situations in which they find themselves. As a result they may behave and act in ways that may appear peculiar or even mischievous. These reactions and actions can isolate the child from the world even further.
Autism is not a physical disability. Children with an autism spectrum disorder look just like other children. There are no obvious physical attributes that exist, often creating difficulty to raise awareness and promote an understanding of the condition.
Autism is a highly variable neuro-developmental disorder that first appears during infancy or childhood, and generally follows a steady course without remission. Overt symptoms gradually begin after the age of six months, become established by age two or three years, and tend to continue through adulthood, although often in more muted form. It is distinguished not by a single symptom, but by a characteristic triad of symptoms: impairments in social interaction; impairments in communication; and restricted interests and repetitive behavior. Other aspects, such as atypical eating, are also common but are not essential for diagnosis. Autism's individual symptoms occur in the general population and appear not to associate highly, without a sharp line separating pathologically severe from common traits
Children with autism may have some of the following traits.
Does not babble or coo by 12 months
- Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
- Does not say single words by 16 months
- Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
- Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age.
- Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
- Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words
- Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
- Laughing, crying, showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
- Prefers to be alone; aloof manner
- Difficulty in mixing with others
- May not want to cuddle or be cuddled
- Little or no eye contact
- Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
- Sustained odd play
- Spins objects
- Inappropriate attachments to objects
- Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
- No real fears of danger
- Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
Uneven gross/fine motor skills
- Not responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf although hearing tests in normal range.