All about Autism Spectrum Disorder

All about Autism Spectrum Disorder

All about Autism Spectrum Disorder

By Shruti Menon

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or autism, as it’s known for convenience, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.  ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviours and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. The term “spectrum” is used to indicate the wide variation in challenges and strengths that each person with autism faces.  Some of the behaviours associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities. 

Someone on the spectrum needn’t adhere to all these symptoms— a good way to think of the autistic spectrum is to think of it as a non-linear spectrum. Think of it as a bunch of different traits that autistic people have, but different people with the same diagnosis of ASD may be at different levels of development with each trait. The traits mainly looked at are language, motor skills, perception, executive function and sensory filter, so someone with autism may be higher developmentally on the first two traits, but may be lower on the others. Another person with ASD need not be at the same developmental level in the same traits, but instead could have more profound deficits in others. This is why outwardly we may see significant differences in the behaviours displayed by autistic people regardless of them having the same diagnosis.

Autism is just a developmental disorder that limits people from expressing and adapting to the way we’ve set up modern day life in the same way as neurotypical humans— people on the spectrum are still human beings with the same emotions and feelings as anyone else. So it’s important to remember that when dealing with someone who’s autistic— to be respectful, yet understanding of their condition, and also to treat them normally. Of late, shows like Atypical on Netflix are doing a great job of bringing awareness about the disease and destigmatising it, showing that it isn’t some terrible curse. That perception needs to get more popular though, so getting involved with centres that deal with these issues to understand them better and help spread awareness would be the best thing you could do to support this cause.