Introductory awareness of autistic spectrum conditions.
Autism is a developmental disability caused by neurological dysfunction. It affects the way a person understands and responds to the world, how they hear, see, feel, sense, perceive and interpret everything around them. This may affect how they eat, sleep, dress, work, spend leisure time etc. They are likely to have repetitive behaviour patterns and restricted repetitive interests. Individuals with an autistic spectrum condition can have difficulties with language and communicating with others and with social interactions and relationships because there is an impairment of 2 way verbal and non verbal communication and impairment of flexible thinking and social imagination. People with autism can often have accompanying learning difficulties but everyone with the condition shares a difficulty in making sense of the world. Inflexibility and restrictiveness in activities and interests can lead to a person on the autistic spectrum having difficulty relating to others and making friends, an inability to engage in imaginary play, it can lead to ritualistic behaviours , obsessions and fears.
It is important to identify the person’s strengths and weaknesses, to use their strengths and interest and use positive approaches. It may be helpful to use social stories to facilitate social skills and to be structured, consistent and calm. It is important to recognise that each individual on the autistic spectrum has their own individual abilities, needs, strengths, preferences and interests so that a person centered shared means of communication can be identified.