Autistic Spectrum Disorder ASD is an umbrella term describing persons identified within the spectrum of autism. ASD is thought to affect around one in 200 children and adults although this is likely to be an under estimate. There are differences between the subgroups but all children and adults with an ASD will have the following core difficulties.
People with ASD may have difficulty in understanding the communication and language of others and also in communicating themselves. Many are delayed in speech development and some do not develop speech.
Social interaction and behaviour
People with an ASD may have varying difficulty in understanding the social behaviour of others and therefore can behave in socially inappropriate ways. People with ASDs may understand things literally and may find reading the social context of a situation difficult. Children with an ASD often find it hard to play and communicate with other children who may be confused by their behaviour and may avoid or bully them. This may lead to social isolation and low self-esteem.
Thinking and behaving in different situations
People with an ASD may have special interests in particular topics or activities, which they may engage in obsessively. They will also have difficulty adapting and being flexible to new situations and often favour routine to change.
Sensory perception and responses
Some people with ASDs are either very sensitive or very insensitive to certain sounds, sights and textures. This can affect their responses to things like clothes or food and noise, they may overeact at sounds and become highly anxious at sounds that are common and frequent. Their eye contact may vary when they communicate with others often looking elsewhere.
Adults with Autistic Spectrum disorders
Adults who live with the condition may have issues with their self esteem and relationships with others generally and often find interactions with people a challenge. Interventions that have proved successful include groups of people coming together where language is not the only method of communication. An example of this is community drum circles where persons come together to share the experience of playing hand drums.
See: The Buddy Beat
National Autistic society link