Five things you need to know about autism spectrum disorder

DATE: 29 March 2019

Five things you need to know about autism spectrum disorder

April 2 is World Autism Awareness day, a day aimed at improving understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and reducing stereotypes, to ensure people living with ASD can enjoy inclusive and equal lives in our community.

April 2 is World Autism Awareness day, a day aimed at improving understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and reducing stereotypes, to ensure people living with ASD can enjoy inclusive and equal lives in our community.

Here are five important things you need to know about ASD.

What exactly is “the spectrum”?

ASD is a complex condition which varies greatly, meaning that each person diagnosed will experience it in a unique way. In recent years, the sector has moved away from the Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome terminology to the broader title of ASD – a term that is sometimes accompanied by the phrase, “on the spectrum”.

This phrase refers to the wide range of symptoms, behaviours, and levels of disability that can occur in people with ASD. Some people with ASD will be on the higher end of the spectrum and can independently manage all activities of daily living, while other people may be on the lower end of the spectrum and require more support to take part in certain activities.

Are people with ASD “anti-social”?

A common myth about people with ASD is that they are not interested in communication with others. While this may be true for some, it is important to remember that this is not the case for everyone.

Some people with ASD experience difficulties with communication, but this does not necessarily mean they do not want social interaction. Sometimes people living with ASD may prefer to communicate in a different way, or they may need more time to process complicated information.

Are people with ASD more sensitive?

As with all other areas of ASD, sensitivities are unique to each person. Some people may experience over-sensitivity, which is usually related to their environment or external stimuli, which can cause them to feel unsettled by loud noises or busy environments.

Others may experience under-sensitivity to their environment, which can include not registering pain, and having a preference for stronger tastes and smells.

Are people with ASD literal thinkers?

While people with ASD are not always literal thinkers, it is common for people with ASD to take things more literally than another person might. Because of this, some people living with ASD may not understand and become confused, particularly with sarcasm and metaphors.

Can you see when someone has ASD?

In a word, no. While a person may appear to share similar tendencies of ASD, it is a complex condition which is diagnosed by a number of factors. There may be times when you encounter someone you suspect has an ASD, however it is best to forget all preconceived expectations unless a person offers you that information themselves.

Learn more about World Autism Awareness Day.

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