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Autism – understanding the spectrum

Autism – understanding the spectrum

The word Autism gets used a lot in today’s society, but do we really understand what it is? I think it is really important to be well informed and to have a clear understanding. There is a lot of talk these days about Autism however a lot of it is a stereotype or a generalisation, however, this can be corrected so let’s educate ourselves and be prepared with knowledge and information.

What is Autism?

It is a developmental disability. Autism is a broad spectrum of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, and communication. There is no one ‘type’ of Autism, every person diagnosed on the spectrum is different. Each person is somewhere on the spectrum, meaning they are all different – children or adults with it may be highly intelligent, of average intelligence or have learning difficulties.

How is it usually identified?

Generally, adults notice that a child’s behaviour is unusual in the first few years of life. Early signs may include delayed speech, repetitive behaviours such as rocking or twirling, or spending hours focusing intently on one thing. Children with Autism may lack interest in playing with other children, and in severe cases may show no interest in the surrounding world at all. These symptoms become more noticeable around age 2 and 3 and can become more evident as children grow older.

These concerns are often then raised with a medical professional who will make the required referrals to the appropriate specialists who can then make an official diagnosis and provide any required support.

The quality of life for lots of children is significantly improved by a formal diagnosis that leads to appropriate evidence-informed intervention or support that recognises individual strengths and interests.

Where does it come from?

The causes of Autism are not fully understood, but research suggests that there may be genetic factors or something in the environment involved. You cannot ‘catch’ it or cause a child to have it.

Myths about Autism:

• Autism is caused by vaccination
• Kids with Autism don’t want to make friends
• Children with Autism can’t learn
• It is caused by bad parenting

Other articles you might be interested in:

How to Explain the Everyday to a Child with Autism

Play With Purpose – We Rock The Spectrum