What is Autism Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition which affects individuals in two main areas:

• Individuals have impaired communication and social interaction
• Individuals have restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities

ASD affects the way that individuals are able to interact with others and they often find the world to be a confusing place. Difficulty communicating can result in ‘melt downs’ – this differs from a tantrum as the individual does not choose to have a melt down.
Individuals with ASD often have many sensory sensitivities – they may be under- or over-sensitive to any of the five senses. It can be difficult for a person with ASD to use multiple senses at once. Thus it may be difficult for a person with ASD to look at you at the same time as speaking with you.
Individuals with ASD can feel like they are bombarded with sensations. They often have a preference for visual learning and may learn in different ways to others. Their difficulties with communication mean that they often miss nuances and jokes and a common trait is that they take what people say very literally.
Many people with ASD have unique gifts in a specific area, such as mathematics or visual memory. It is these people whose brains work slightly differently that can be the source of many wonderful inventions that we enjoy everyday.
Many people with ASD can have normal or above normal IQs, even if they cannot speak freely, so it is important to speak to a person with ASD as you would any other person. Some may appreciate a more soft and slow voice to allow for noise sensitivities.