The Autism Experience – Essential Skills for Those on the Spectrum
Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental condition that typically appears during early childhood. Officially called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it can impact many aspects of a person’s life, including their social skills, how they communicate, the way they handle relationships, and their self-regulation. The autism experience is different for everyone, though it is defined by certain behaviors.
It is called a spectrum disorder because it affects people differently and to varying degrees. In this blog post, Blue Parachute discusses essential skills needed for living with autism.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
ASD, or autism, is a complex, lifelong developmental condition that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation. Most often, an autism diagnosis is given when a person illustrates persistent differences in communication, interpersonal relationships, and social interaction across different environments.
Types of Autism
In the past, different types of autistic spectrum disorders could be diagnosed. These included Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), Rett Syndrome, and Autistic Disorder. However, in 2013, the DSM-5 set aside different autism types and replaced them with autism spectrum disorder. Because there are varying degrees to which autism affects different individuals, saying autistic individuals are on the spectrum better identifies that each person with ASD will exhibit different characteristics of the condition.
Do You Wonder What Spectrum Means?
The term spectrum refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment or disability that people with autism can have. Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely affected.
Complications of Autism
Depending on where on the spectrum a person falls can impact if there are any complications of autism for the person. Though not all people with ASD will experience these, autism can include such complications as:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Sleep disorders
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Motor coordination problems
- Sensory processing problems.
In addition to such complications, many people, especially those who recently were personally diagnosed or who had a loved one get an autism diagnosis, wonder about the autism experience. These individuals frequently have questions about ASD if they are not already familiar with what being on the spectrum entails.
Here are some common questions that people ask about the autism experience:
Can a Child with Autism Live a Normal Life?
Yes! With proper support and treatment, children and adults with autism can lead what many would consider normal lives. Early diagnosis can help a person receive resources supporting the choices and opportunities needed to live fully.
What Does it Mean to Be High Functioning?
High-functioning autism (HFA) is an informal term applied to people with autism who are deemed to be cognitively “higher functioning” (with an IQ above 70) than other people with autism. Numerous high-functioning individuals lead what many would consider “normal” lives without others even realizing they had been diagnosed with ASD.
Are There Coping Skills for Autism?
Coping skills are essential for all individuals, but learning appropriate ways to cope with behaviors related to autism can be especially helpful. These include developing routines and schedules, learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation, regularly engaging in physical activity or exercise, and practicing social skills through role-playing or other activities.
Does Having Sensory Issues Mean Autism?
Just because a person has sensory issues does not necessarily mean they are on the spectrum. Sensory issues are common in people with autism but can also occur in people without the condition.
Prognosis of Autism
The prognosis for individuals with autism varies widely depending on the severity of their symptoms. Early intervention can help improve outcomes for children with autism. After you or your loved one receives a prognosis of autism, the autism experience you have can be regulated by what you do. The first thing to do is to learn more about autism and how to help someone on the spectrum.
What If My Child Is Low on the Autism Spectrum?
People who are low on the autism spectrum may have mild symptoms of autism. Some of these individuals might not meet the criteria for an official diagnosis of ASD. It could be that they have sensory issues, and due to this, they are believed to be on the spectrum.
Sensory Issues vs. Autism
Sensory issues are common in people with autism but can also occur in people without autism. That said, sensory issues are more prevalent in people with autism than those without it. Sensory input can refer to the information received through the senses, such as sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, balance, and body position. A person highly affected by sensory input could be described as having sensory issues.
Some common differences associated with the senses that some on the autism spectrum experience can include:
Texture sensitivity refers to an individual’s sensitivity to certain textures. Some people on the spectrum may have difficulty tolerating certain textures, such as clothing fabrics or food textures.
Sensory hyposensitivity refers to an individual’s decreased sensitivity to sensory stimuli. People with autism spectrum disorder may have difficulty detecting certain sensory stimuli such as touch or sound.
Sensory differences refer to differences in how individuals process sensory input. People with autism may process sensory input differently than those without it.
Effects of Autism on Families
Autism can significantly affect families, such as increased stress levels due to caregiving responsibilities and financial burdens due to therapeutic care. Just because autism can affect families in different ways, this doesn’t mean that all of these effects are bad.
An autism diagnosis can help bring a family unit together as they learn about the condition and find ways to teach essential skills to the person with autism spectrum disorder. The autism experience will be different for everyone on the spectrum, their families, and those in their communities.
Improve Your Autism Experience With Blue Parachute
The autism experience is a journey that varies from person to person, and it’s marked by unique challenges and triumphs. Individuals on the spectrum possess a wide range of skills and abilities, and understanding their diverse needs is essential for providing effective support.
At Blue Parachute, we’re dedicated to being your partners in this journey. Our video resources, expertly crafted by Licensed and Certified Behavior Therapists, offer invaluable insights and strategies to enhance autism education. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or part of the autism community, our video library provides the resources you need to better understand autism and implement effective techniques.
We encourage you to explore our comprehensive video catalog today. Empower yourself with the knowledge and tools necessary to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum.
Blue Parachute – Who We Help
Blue Parachute – How We Help
Autism Speaks – Life Skills and Autism
Medical News Today – High Functioning Autism: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment