The Core Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorders
The core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders include age-independent deficits in social interaction and in communication, and repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests and activities. Children and adults affected by classic autism experience difficulties in initiating and participating in a conversation.
These difficulties often create tension in relationships with family members, friends, partners, work colleagues and peers. For example, peers who are not aware of what autism really is, tease the autistic child. They describe his behaviour as odd or inappropriate (while he himself does not) and often exclude him from common activities. If the autistic child does not have any specific knowledge about his disorder, he has difficulties understanding his peers’ attitudes towards him.
Deficits in communication often show as a delay of language development. Also, autistic children and adults lack awareness of non-verbal communication skills, such as gestures and facial expressions. For example, if we see someone being sad, we would ask her if anything happened and try to make her feel better. The autistic person may not recognize the facial expression of sadness and act inappropriately in this situation.
Restricted, repetitive behaviours, interests or activities are comprised of special interests, ritualized daily routines and a strong aversion to changes of the current lifestyle. For example, the autistic person may have developed a special interest for music. All he talks about and all he thinks about, seems to be evolving around music. When the topic of music is on the table, he may exhibit a large amount of knowledge on the topic compared to his peers, talk non-stop and come across as a music expert.
Currently, at least one in every 160 children is affected by autism spectrum disorder, predominantly boys. The symptoms are relatively stable and extend into adulthood. Children diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (a light form of autism) often show a better overall prognosis compared to children with autism.
Autistic children and adults’ biggest wish is to be a part of our world, to be appreciated and accepted just as they are, without trying to change them into something they are not.