This page is designed to answer the following questions:
- 4.1. Describe the main characteristics found in individuals with autism. (Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Autism, Introduction to Autism)
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Although autism is a spectrum condition, which means that no two individuals with autism are alike, there are certain characteristics that are often shared.
Common social communication and interaction characteristics can include:
- Difficulty with communication, including problems using and understanding language.
- Difficulty with non-verbal communication, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures.
- Difficulty understanding and responding to social cues.
- Difficulty in developing and maintaining relationships. This may include difficulties in making friends and understanding other people’s feelings and perspectives.
- Preference for solitary or parallel play rather than engaging in cooperative play with other children.
Another common characteristic is repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities, which might include:
- Repetitive movements or patterns of behavior, such as rocking, spinning, hand flapping, or lining up objects.
- Insistence on routines and structured activities, and distress at changes in routines.
- Intense, often highly focused interests in specific topics.
Other characteristics may include:
- Hypo- or hyper-reactivity to sensory input. For example, an individual might be indifferent to pain or temperature, adverse to specific sounds or textures, or excessively fascinated by lights or moving objects.
- Delayed language skills
- Delayed movement skills
- Delayed cognitive or learning skills
- Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry
It’s important to note that autism is a spectrum disorder, which means it affects every individual differently. Not all individuals with autism will show all of these behaviors, and the severity and combination of these behaviors can vary widely. Some individuals with ASD may have difficulties in social situations but excel in areas like mathematics, music, or art. Others might need significant support in their daily lives. It’s crucial to remember that each person with autism is unique and may have strengths and challenges that differ from those of others with the same diagnosis.