ASD is a spectrum disorder. Accordingly, each child’s experience is unique. This is not just seen in the symptoms exhibited but also in their severity. Symptoms often demonstrate themselves by the time the child is two years old. However, ASD can be reliably diagnosed as early as the eighteenth month.

There are broad shared areas that can give us greater insight into what it is like to live with ASD. These shared areas are

  1. social communication impairments
  2. repetitive patterns of behavior
  3. inability to process sensory input

Social Communication Impairments

These impairments relate to the child’s ability to interact within a social context. The classic indicator of this the child’s inability to maintain eye contact and difficulty in sustaining a conversation. Other examples include appearing to lack empathy and also difficulty in processing verbal and non-verbal communication

Repetitive Patterns of Behaviour

Children with ASD will display an affinity for repetitive behaviour. The action most associated with this are hand flapping and spinning around in circles. This pattern can also manifest itself in fixations e.g. watching the same segment of a movie over and over again. Other ways in which this can be seen is in an autistic child’s insistence on routine and rigid workflows.

Inability to Appropriately Process Sensory Input

ASD is a neuro-developmental disorder. As such, an autistic child faces tremendous difficulty in processing sensory input. For example, an autistic child might be over sensitive sound - hearing a the softest sounds as if they were explosions. Similarly, an autistic child might feel much pain even at another person’s slightest touch.

In summary

In addition to the various impairments, autistic children also possess abilities that are extraordinary. For example, some have been known to be able to play complicated passage in music by ear or show an uncanny ability to process numbers. In this bigger scenario, children with autism are no less than normal children, they are just differently. When dealing with autistic children it is best to think of what they can do instead of just focusing on what they can’t do.