Autism is a "spectrum disorder," meaning you can be a little autistic or very autistic.

Until May, 2013, there were five "official" autism spectrum diagnoses, but the diagnoses within the autism spectrum weren't clearly named, nor were the symptoms always the same even within the same diagnosis. Terms like "severe autism," "mild autism" and "high functioning autism" aren't true diagnoses at all - they're just descriptive terms to help parents and teachers better understand a child's status on the autism spectrum.

Today, with the DSM-5, there is just one "autism spectrum disorder" -- and everyone is lumped under that single diagnosis. But that doesn't mean we've stopped using the older or informal terms. 

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF AUTISM?
The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another, but are generally divided into THREE main groups.

1. DIFFICULTY WITH SOCIAL COMMUNICATION
For PEOPLE WITH AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DISORDER, "BODY LANGUAGE" can appear just as foreign as if people were speaking ancient GREEK.

People with autism have difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal language. Many have a very literal understanding of language and think people always mean exactly what they say. They can find it difficult to use or understand:

Facial expression... or tone of voice..

Jokes and sarcasm....Common phrases

Some people with autism, may not speak or have fairly limited speech.

They will usually understand what other people say to them, but prefer to use alternative means of communication themselves, such as sign language or visual symbols.

Others will have a good language skills, but they find it hard to understand the give-and-take nature of conversations:

perhaps repeating what the other persons has just said, or talking at length about their own interests.

 

2. DIFFICULTY WITH SOCIAL INTERACTION

People with autism often have difficulty recognising or understanding other people's emotions and feelings and expressing their own, which can make it more difficult for them to fit in socially. 

They may: not understand the unwritten social rules which most of us pick up without thinking: They may stand too close to another person for example or start an inapproprate conversation.

Appear to be insensitive because they have not recognised how someone else is feeling. 

Prefer to spend time alone rather than seeking out the company of other people. 

Not seek comfort from other people.

Appear to behave starangely or inappropriately as it is not always easy for them to express feelings emotions or needs.

Difficulties with social interaction can mean that people with autism find it hard to form friendship: Some may want interact with other peopole and make friends, but may be unsure how to go about this.

3. DIFFICULTY WITH SOCIAL IMAGINATION

Social imagination allows us to understand and predict other people's behaviours, make sense of abstract ideas and to imagining situations outside our immediate daily routine.

Difficulties with social imagination mean that people with autism find it hard to:

1. Understand and interpret other people's thoughts feelings and actions.

2. Predict what will hapen next.

3. Understand the danger of danger-for example that running on to a busy road poses threat to them.

4. Engage in imaginative play and acivities. Children with autism may enjoy some imaginative play but prefer to act out the same acenes each time.

5. Prepare for change and plan for the future.

Difficulties with social imagination should not be confused with lack of imagination.

Many people with autism are very creative and may be for example , accomplished artists, musicians or writers.

WHAT IS "AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER ?" (ASD)
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