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Supporting a child with Autism

What is Autism?

What are the characteristics of autism?

How can I best support my child?

Where can I get more support?

What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that affects the way in which a person communicates with others and how they see and make sense of the world around them.

Autism is a spectrum condition and levels of autism vary. A person with autism may live a very independent life or have additional disabilities which require close specialist support for the rest of their lives

What are the characteristics of autism?

The three main areas which people with autism have difficulties in are; social communication, social interaction and social imagination. The degree of impairment in each area varies from child to child.

Often children with autism may not show any physical signs of disability so the condition can be difficult to diagnose, and mistaken by adults for difficult behaviour. Common characteristics of autism include a preference and love of very specific routines, sensory sensitivity, special interests and learning disabilities.

Below are some more of the characteristics associated with autism which parents and carers may notice  in their child, although these are not evident in every autistic child.

  • Mirroring and repeating the speech of others rather than responding to it.

  • Using limited language and repetitive phrases

  • Difficulty understanding or using language

  • Difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication, struggling to make sense of facial expressions and tone of voice as well as jokes and sarcasm. This is due to their literal understanding of language, to the extent that common phrases and sayings are misinterpreted.

  • Using their parents/carers hand to indicate what they want rather than using language or gestures to communicate their needs.

  • Struggling to answer when spoken to and using limited eye contact

  • Over interest in certain things or topics such as 'cars', 'aeroplanes', 'fairies' to the degree that this is their main topic of conversation and focus.

  • Difficulty explaining actions and displaying unusual mannerisms and behaviours

  • Lack of awareness of others needs and little empathy or understanding when others are hurt or injured.

  • Disliking and resisting any changes in routines, sometimes accompanied by tantrums.

  • Unusual reactions to sensory stimuli such as lights, sounds, smells and shadows

  • Making inappropriate social advances and lacking awareness of everyday dangers. 

  • Difficulties forming social relationships and a tendency to avoid situations which require social interactions.

Asperger's syndrome is also a type of autism, but often people with this condition are above average intelligence and present fewer problems with speech, although they may still have difficulties understanding and processing language.

Children who are at the more severe end of the autistic spectrum are likely to have their condition identified during their pre-school years. However, children with Apserger's Syndrome are often mistaken as  having emotional or behavioural difficulties and their need is not identified until later on in their schooling.

Where can I get more support?

National Autistic Society   

Helpline: 0845 070 4004                

Web: www.nas.org.uk

Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net



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