Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability that affects the development of the brain in areas of social interaction and communication. People with autism have difficulties in communicating and forming relationships with people, in developing language and in using abstract concepts. It also impacts on their ability to make sense of the world around them.
Autism is often referred to as the ‘hidden’ disability because people who are on the with autism show no significant physical difference to their peers, rather it is their behaviour that appears different.
Although autism will affect each person differently, some common characteristics can include:
- Difficulty expressing wants/needs/emotions
- Difficulty understanding non-verbal cues &gestures
- Literal interpretations
- Lack of interest in interaction
- Limited use of gestures
- Difficulty understanding others perspectives
- Difficulties with conversational turn-taking
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Insistence on same & reliance on routines
- Intense and limited interests
- Stereotyped or repetitive movements such as rocking, flapping hands, walking in lines
- Over or under sensitivity to sensory experiences (e.g. sounds, smells, lights, etc.)