Autism Spectrum

What are Autism Spectrum disorders?

All people vary in the ability to relate socially and psychologists for a long time described people as introverted or extroverted. Introverted people like staying to themselves while extroverts connect more socially. Children/adults with autism are typically more awkward socially, and may display language and intellectual weaknesses. There is often a preoccupation with routine, narrow interests, and anxiety that is masked over by routine. Children/adults with more profound autism possess these symptoms to a greater degree and in some instances may have severe intellectual challenges and struggle with daily living skills.

Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder

There are a variety of conditions described under the rubric of Autism Spectrum Disorder, also known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder, where symptoms range from mild to severe. Parents sometimes observe as infants as having difficulties with eye contact and cuddling. There can be oversensitivity to sounds and language delays. There is often difficulty meeting the social demands of growing up, which includes taking the perspective of others, being empathic, using imagination in play, relating to others reciprocally, reading social cues, managing change and anger in response to that change. Comfort is found in the routine and anxiety with transitions.

Asperger’s Disorder has commonly been viewed as a mild form of autism although it can still have great impact upon the life of a child/adult. Typical symptoms associated with Asperger’s include: one –sided conversations with little or no awareness of audience reactions, minimal or no eye contact, and obsessional interests in one or a few areas, such as whales, bridges, and train schedules. Difficulties being sensitive to the needs of others, reading social cues, and grasping humor may also be present. Children/adults with Asperger’s have been observed to speak in a monotone or stilted voice, and sometimes talk rapidly. They can be clumsy and have poor coordination, along with an odd posture or rigid gait.

What types of treatments are available?

Treatment for autism varies depending on the severity of the condition. In milder cases, social skills groups are often recommended to help with reading social cues, maintaining eye contact, starting and initiating conversation, self-advocacy, and anger management. With more severe autism, difficulties with relatedness and language are more pronounced. There can also be intellectual challenges and limitations in terms of daily living skills. Highly structured schools specializing in autism are often recommended.