An Intro to Autism

On first sight of a child with autism it would be very unlikely that you would tell them apart from any other child. There are no obvious visual clues, which is why so many children are mistaken for being naughty or rude. Autism is a disabling brain disorder. It affects the way in which people understand and react to the world around them. This causes them to act differently than others.

Many autistic people have a hard time using words to say what they want or need, where as others might end up repeating the same word or sentence over and over again. The difficulty in understanding what others are saying can cause great confusion. They may see or hear a person talking, and although every word has been heard, they fail to grasp the meaning of what has been said.

A child with autism may be perfectly happy one moment, but all of a sudden become sad or angry, or even have a tantrum. This may be because they can't tell people what they want. Taking the wrong turn or a certain noise could trigger this reaction.

For the parent or caregiver of the autistic person, finding the cause can be a long slow process. A lack of communication can lead to frustration and confusion both for the autistic person and for the people around them.

Many people with autism have ritualistic behaviour, insistence on routine and sameness. An autistic person may be perfectly happy to go to a familiar shop, but take them to a different shop to buy the same item, and they may become frustrated, withdrawn, even fearful. An unfamiliar space or routine no longer feels safe or secure. The autistic person can find it very difficult to relate from one situation to another. Reality to an autistic person can be confusing, a mass of events, people, places, sounds and sights. With no clear boundaries, or meaning to anything.

Although all individuals with autism are different, they do, however, share problems in three key areas: communication, social interaction and imagination. Autism is often referred to as a "spectrum disorder," meaning that the symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a variety of combinations, ranging from extremely mild to quite severe. People with autism can often have accompanying learning disabilities but everyone with the condition shares a difficulty in making sense of the world.

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