What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism is a neurological disorder of development that causes differences in the way the brain processes, integrates and organizes information. It affects an individual’s ability to understand and use language to interact and communicate with people. Impacts their ability to understand and relate in typical ways to people, events and objects in the environment. It also significantly impairs their ability to respond to sensory stimuli. (pain, hearing, taste)

Characteristics of ASD:

Impairments in Communication:

May or may not use verbal language, may not understand the function of language, repetitive language or echolalia, unusual voice characteristics, literal use and understanding of language, poor understanding of non-verbal communication such as gestures and facial expressions, limited eye contact, communications focus on own individual interests.

Unusual Responses to Sensory Stimuli:
May demonstrate self-stimulatory behavior, over responsive or under responsive to sensory stimulation, strong preferences or aversions to certain clothing, foods, or smells, attention difficulties, slower processing time, poor motor coordination, difficulty with fine motor tasks.

Impairments in Social Interaction:
Poor reciprocity; turn taking, decreased social smile, eye contact and use of gestures, poor understanding of social cues and social rules, may want friends but lack the ability to make or keep them, difficulty taking listeners perspective, difficulty with group and team activities.

Repetitive and Stereotyped Behaviors:
Very few interests and very intense, inflexible adherence to routines and rituals, stereotyped and repeated mannerisms, difficulty sequencing and organizing tasks, difficulty with changes in routine and transitions between activities, variable performance from day to day, rule bound.