Is your child on the autism spectrum?
This week is World Autism Awareness Week. We will be publishing a series of articles regarding autism across the week which we hope will be useful to you.
People with autism have many different traits and this list is not exhaustive, nor will one person have every sign.
- Echoing words/phrases without context
- Taking an adult to the biscuit tin rather than asking or pointing
- Taking language too literally
- Preference to play alone
- Difficulty relating to other people
- Difficulties with social interaction and social communication
- Not understanding other’s thoughts and emotions
- Carrying out activities in a restrictive or repetitive way, for example always playing the same game in the same way, or repeatedly lining toys up in a particular order, spinning wheels, only watching one TV programme, obsessions e.g. trains, vacuum cleaners
- Resistance to change or doing things differently, e.g. insisting on walking the same route
- Not coping well with sudden changes e.g. reorganisation of the classroom, a spur of the moment trip to the park
- Behaviour such as biting, pinching, kicking, pica (putting inedible items in the mouth), or self-injurious behaviour.
- Stimming ‘Self-stimulatory behaviour’ e.g. hand flapping, fiddling with small objects, jiggling a foot, stroking a piece of clothing or gently rocking in place.
- Toe walking
- Unusual eating behaviour such as eating foods of one colour, not letting one food touch another type on the plate
Other Characteristics of Autism
- Exceptional attention to detail
- People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours. e.g. distress at loud noises
- ‘Autistic meltdowns’ are common in children. Children have not yet learned to control their emotions. For children with ASD, their senses are naturally more sensitive, and they are likely to be in an overstimulating environment, such as school or day-care, for a lot of the time.
- ‘Shutdowns’ -the brain can’t cope with any more sensory input, so simply stops taking any more in. The child may just appear distracted, or they may find themselves unable to talk or move.
- Co-ordination difficulties
- Additional learning disabilities
- A very small percentage have unusual abilities for example with music or memory
People with autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) are statistically more likely to have certain other conditions. These are not part of the autism spectrum but are described as ‘co-occurring’ conditions. Not every person with an ASC will have a co-occurring condition. Some examples of co-occurring conditions include: Learning disabilities, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Mental Health difficulties (there is debate as to whether this is due to structural differences in the brain or due to feelings of isolation, confusion, fear, discrimination, social conflict and stress caused by living in a world designed for people without ASCs).
Figures from Carers UK state that 1 in 7 workers in the UK are likely to be working whilst having additional caring responsibilities. This includes many workers who are parents of autistic children and those with caring responsibilities for adults with autistic spectrum conditions (ASCs). See- www.childautism.org.uk, www.autism.org.uk, https://healthtalk.org/parents-children-autism-spectrum/overview
Thank you to Karen Beresford, Childcare Resource Associate at Your Employee Wellbeing for this insightful article.
29th March to 2nd April is Autism Awareness Week, and Your Employee Wellbeing is raising awareness by publishing articles across the week. There are loads of great ideas for supporting the campaign in the workplace.
Conditions on the autistic ‘spectrum’ can often be undiagnosed and adults can live with it their whole lives, learning to deal with its effect by creating their own coping strategies. Neurodiversity is one of the many topics Your Employee Wellbeing covers in its Employee Wellbeing programmes.
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