Module 2 - Autism Spectrum Disorders

How can I tell if someone I look after may have an autism spectrum


This can be difficult as the presentation of autism spectrum disorders can vary and be very different from person to person. It is also important to remember that many people with ASD are looked after with no problems and may not need a diagnosis. The things that might suggest a person has an autism spectrum disorder are related to the particular difficulties the person has with communication, social interaction and using their imagination to think about things they are not familiar with or are abstract (such as time) as opposed to concrete that can be directly experienced (such as a mug). Generally speaking people with autism like things to be the same and like routines. They maybe fussy about what they eat and need things to be done in a particular way. Many struggle with even minor change. They often like to do things that are repetitive and often enjoy sorting things into order or physical activities like trampolining or swimming. Some like being with other people and others prefer their own compony but they all have problems when they interact with people. This can include odd eye contact, touching people inappropriately (stroking hair for example), having very one sided conversations that are primarily about what they are interested in and showing little or no interest in the other person. Asking the same question repeatedly even when this has been answered is also common and can be very frustrating. Their speech is often odd and may seem stilted, very monotonous or very quiet or very loud. Most find it difficult to have two-way relationships and any friendships about shared interests rather than emotional engagement. Under stress most people with autism withdraw from others and tend to engage in repetitive, obsessional behaviours. Self-harm and aggression is also sometimes seen as a response to stress. If autism is suspected to be a problem then a referral to an appropriate specialist may need to be made. There are generally well established assessment services for children. Adults are often assessed by psychiatrists or psychologists with a special interest in the area as most specialists will not have the expertise and confidence to undertake this type of assessment.
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