Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a type of developmental disability. It is caused by differences inside of the brain. There are some individuals with ASD where they have a known difference, like a genetic condition. However, there are other causes that are not known yet. Scientists believe that ASD has multiple causes that act together to alter the most common ways that individuals develop. There is still a lot to learn about the causes and the ways that individuals with ASD are impacted by them.
People with ASD often do not look any different from other people. They might learn, interact, communicate, and behave in different ways from most other individuals. The abilities that individuals with ASD have can vary greatly. For example, some individuals with ASD might be nonverbal while others might possess advanced conversation skills. Some individuals with ASD are able to work and live with no or little support while others need a lot of assistance with their daily lives. If you are looking to work with children with autism you may be interested in seeing Hampshire school jobs.
ASD starts before 3 years old and many last throughout an individual’s life, although it is possible for symptoms to improve over time. ASD symptoms are shown in some children during the first 12 months of their lives, while in other symptoms might not become evident until 24 months old or even later. There are some children with ASD who meet developmental milestones and obtain new skills until they reach 18 to 24 months old. They then start to lose the skills they formerly had or stop obtaining new skills.
An ASD diagnosis includes several conditions now that were diagnosed separately in the past: Asperger syndrome, PDD-NOS (a pervasive developmental disorder that is not otherwise specified), and autistic disorder. Those conditions now are all referred to as autism spectrum disorder. There are new criteria to help diagnose ASD. They include repetitive or restricted interests or behaviours and problems with social interaction and communication. It is very important to note that some individuals who do not have ASD may have some of those symptoms as well. However, for individuals with ASD, those characteristics can make their lives quite challenging and difficult.
Interaction and Social Communication Skills
For individuals with ASD, social interaction and communication skills can be very challenging.
Examples of social interaction and social communication characteristics that relate to ASD may include the following:
- Doesn’t play games that involve turn-taking by 60 months old
- Has difficulties discussing their own feelings or understanding other people’s at 36 months and older
- Does not show a lot of interest in their peers
- Doesn’t pretend while playing (e.g. doesn’t pretend they are feeding a doll by 30 months old)
- Doesn’t notice when other people are sad or hurt by 24 months old
- Doesn’t look or point at what you are pointing to by 18 months old
- Doesn’t share interests with others (e.g. will show you an item that she or he likes by 15 months old)
- Uses no or few gestures by 12 months old (e.g. doesn’t wave goodbye)
- Doesn’t play pat-a-cake and other simple interactive games by 12 months old
- Doesn’t show facial expressions such as surprise, angry, sad, and happiness by 9 months old
- Doesn’t respond to their name by 9 months old
- Doesn’t keep or avoid eye contact
Repetitive or Restricted Interests or Behaviors
Individuals with ASD can have interests or behaviours that appear to be unusual. Those interests or behaviours set ASD apart from those conditions that are only defined by problems with social interaction and communication.
Examples of repetitive or restricted behaviours and interests that relate to ASD may include:
- Being focused on parts of items (e.g. wheels)
- Plays with toys the exact same way each time
- Repeats phrases and words over and over
- Lines up toys or other items and gets upset if their order is changed