What is Autism?
What are the 5 types of Disorders on the Autism Spectrum?
The first key component in understanding Autism is to know what the different types of Autism are. There are five major types of Autism which include Asperger's syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Kanner's syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified.
Common characteristics of a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder
While every child with ASD is unique, common characteristics include effects on the five senses, social interactions, and emotional expression.
- Problems with social interaction with others. This may include problems talking back and forth, working, or playing with others.
- Unusual interest in objects
- Need for consistency
- Great variation in abilities
- Under or over reaction to one or more of the five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, or hearing
- Repeated actions or body movements
- Unusual emotional reactions and expression
People with Autism often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviours or interests. People with Autism may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention.
Autism & genetics: What we know
Autism affects approximately 1 in 160 individuals, and is more common in males than females. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder which usually appears very early, before the age of 3 years.
Autism is very heterogeneous, both in terms of which symptoms most affect a person and the severity of symptoms. That's why Autism support workers play a crucial role in assisting individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders throughout their lifespan, as the course of the disorder can be quite different for different people. Some experience significant improvement in symptoms as they get older, while others remain unchanged or develop new problems such as seizures. These professionals are also attuned to the potential development of other mental health issues like depression, providing holistic care.
While we do not know exactly what causes Autism, it likely comes about through a combination of genetic and environmental factors that affect the developing brain. Over a hundred different genes have been associated with the risk for Autism. The current name “Autism Spectrum Disorders” reflects the likelihood that what we call Autism probably represents a range of neurodevelopmental syndromes that may have different causes. One of the great challenges for research in Autism is to try to better understand how differences between individuals with Autism relate to how they respond to different kinds of interventions.
Understanding the signs of Autism
As this article mentions, the signed can differ depending on the individual. However key Signs of Autism in young children include:
- Not responding to their name
- Avoiding eye contact
- Not smiling when you smile at them
- Getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell or sound
- Repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers or rocking their body
- Not talking as much as other children
- Repeating the same phrases
Signs of Autism in older Children
Signs of Autism in older children can include:
- Not seeming to understand what others are thinking or feeling
- Finding it hard to say how they feel
- Liking a strict daily routine and getting very upset if it changes
- Having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities
- Getting very upset if you ask them to do something
- Finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on their own
- Taking things very literally – for example, they may not understand phrases like “break a leg”
Autism can sometimes be different in girls and boys.
For example, autistic girls may be quieter, may hide their feelings and may appear to cope better with social situations.
This means Autism can be harder to spot in girls.
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