Posted by on Sep 30, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

When one hears that a child has
autism, their first thought is
of the child that is developmentally
delayed, socially incapable of
interaction or feelings while
displaying repeated self-harming
behaviour. The term autism,
however, can mean many things.
It can be used to describe Autism
Spectrum Disorder, of which
there are five entities including:
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder,
Rett’s Disorder, Autistic Disorder,
Pervasive Developmental Disorder
– Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS),
and Asperger’s Syndrome.
The latter three are the most common
of the five categories. Autism
Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has a
range or spectrum of symptoms
ranging in severity and frequency.
It is a neurologic disorder that
results in developmental disability
affecting communication, behaviour
and social interaction/awareness.
There are several characteristics
that separate ASD from other
developmental disorders. Each
characteristic can range from mild to
severe and not everyone affected has
all characteristics. Some of the more
common traits include problems
with social skills, communication,
repeated behaviours and restricted
interests, and unusual responses to
sensation. Some ASD people show
no interest in others while others
may be interested but not know how
to interact appropriately. For many
there language skills may initially
develop and then suddenly regress
– up to 40% of ASD people are not
able to talk at all. Many people with
ASD may have repeated, ritualistic
behaviours such as spinning,
rocking, staring, finger flapping, or
hitting themselves.
For many with ASD, small
changes in the environment can be
extremely stressful and met with
resistance. They may also talk
or focus obsessively on only one
activity or idea. Finally, people
with ASD may have problems
with being overwhelmed with
changes in sensory input both
visual and auditory. They may be
unable to process the information
properly again leading to a stressful
Like Dustin Hoffman’s character in
Rain Man, many ASD people may
have unique, sometimes incredible
abilities. Some may have an
accurate and detailed memory for
certain types of information and
facts, a high visual recall and a great
ability to manipulate these facts and
figures to useful ends. Others may
have particularly superb spatial
perception and long term memory
recall making them “geniuses”
in particular skills including
music, math, physics, science and
technologies, and architecture.