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Autistic Spectrum Disorder

What is an Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

Autistic Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term used to describe the group of Pervasive Developmental Disorders that begin in childhood and continue in to adulthood. Autistic Spectrum Disorder will affect the way an individual understands and perceives their world, whilst affecting their communication and the way in which they can relate to people around them.

Disorders classed as an Autistic Spectrum Disorder include:

The four main areas that individuals with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder will have problems with include:

  • Social interaction - the individual may:
    • Appear to be aloof
    • Have no interest in other people
    • Have no friends
    • Prefer to be alone
    • Have difficulty understanding others emotions
  • Verbal and non-verbal communication - speech normally develops later, with language often developing incorrectly. Individuals may experience the following difficulties:
    • Difficulty expressing themselves
    • Unable to understand gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice
    • Creating their own words
    • Using odd choices of words and phrases
    • Lack of using hand gestures when talking
  • Repetitive behaviours / interests - may include one or more of the following:
    • Strange movements, such as hand flapping
    • Anger / aggression
    • Actions may be repeated several times
    • Obsessive nature
  • Poor imagination
    • Imaginative play will be limited

In addition, individuals with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder often have unusual responses to sensory stimulus.

The above difficulties can manifest in different individuals with varying degrees in severity, language and intellectual abilities. The presentation of Autistic Spectrum Disorders can be extremely variable, hence why this group of disorders is classed as a Spectrum. Individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorder will have varying levels of cognitive and intellectual ability, with some having a significant learning disability.

Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder will not follow the typical patterns of child development. There is not set age when problems may be apparent, this will be dependent upon the individual. In most cases difficulties in communication and social skills will become more obvious as the child lags behind children of the same age.

The cause of Autistic Spectrum Disorder is not known, however, research suggests that there is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Other conditions are sometimes associated with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, including:

To arrange an assessment with one of our therapists please email or call 03300 886 693.

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